It was a bad night for Portuguese coaches in the Champions League 2nd qualifying round, with Jorge Jesus and Pedro Martins eliminated at an early stage of the competition with Fenerbahce and Olympiacos respectively.

Both managers saw their teams dumped out at home in return legs as 10-man Fener experienced plenty of bad luck as they lost in extra time to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev in the Turkish capital Istanbul, while Pedro Martins’ Greek champions were embarrassed 4-0 in Piraeus by Israel’s Maccabi Haifa.

For Jesus, another devastating elimination in the Champions League qualifiers which will no doubt invoke memories of his Benfica side experiencing the same fate against PAOK early on in his second spell at the Lisbon club. The veteran boss is similarly just weeks into his tenure with Fenerbahce and elimination after a busy summer window is a significant blow to the club.

Fener and Dynamo had played out a goalless draw last week in the first leg, played in the Polish city of Lodz due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Fenerbahce were favourites for the return meeting at the typically vibrant Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, and the hosts thought they had the dream start on nine minutes when Joshua King found the net, only for the goal to be disallowed for a contentious foul in the build-up.

Jesus’ side hit the post shortly after through Irfan Kahveci and King missed a good chance in what was a promising opening twenty minutes. However, having failed to make a breakthrough the game changed drastically in the 53rd minute when midfielder Ismail Yuksek received a red card for a second booking, with the visitors taking the lead just three minutes later through Vitali Buyalskyi.

Fener’s bad luck continued twenty minutes from time when Enner Valencia won a penalty but saw his spot-kick saved by Georgiy Bushchan. The equaliser did arrive in the 88th minute through Attila Szalai’s thunderous header, but extra time proved too much for the Turkish side’s weary legs and Dynamo snatched the winner in the 114th minute when Aleksandr Karavaev scored from a tight angle to send the Ukrainians through.

Red card the deciding factor – Jesus

“Like every match, this match has a story,” Jesus began in his press conference. “Fenerbahçe was the side that played well until half time. We had 7 shots on the opponent's goal, our opponent had no shots on goal. Everyone in the stadium believed that Fenerbahce would be the ones to go through when it was 11v11, but İsmail's red card changed the course of the match. At that moment, our team lost its organisational structure, its balance was disturbed and at this moment our opponent scored the goal. 

“Our team believed, put in spirit, fought even though we were at a disadvantage and Enner Valencia missed the penalty. But our team continued to maintain its courage. Of course, you won't be happy when you go out, but the team should leave here with their heads high because they ran really hard. The lack of experience today was decisive in the outcome of the match and in our elimination.

“I am sure that our fans who came to the stadium today left the stadium proud of their team. We fought really well when the match was 11 vs. 11, even when 1 person was missing. From the moment we had 10 men, the team responded very well and believed. But in the Champions League, small details are decisive. This is how it happened today. The red card was the deciding factor for us. 

“When we look at the statistics, we had the ball 60% of the time when it was 11v11. We had 7 shots, the opponent only had 1 shot. But the red card affected our control of the match. Then our team equalised, they tried really hard. But our physical capacity was not enough in extra time. It was really hard to play for 30 more minutes with 1 player missing. This is the story of the match. We also played against a very good team. Maybe you don't know Dynamo Kiev very well, but they are a really great team. I am proud of the performance of my team.”

Martins refusing to contemplate resignation after humiliating defeat

Perhaps the most eye-catching result of the night was Olympiacos’ shocking 4-0 home defeat to Maccabi Haifa in Greece. Having earned a 1-1 draw from the first leg in Israel, Martins’ Greek champions were naturally favourites to progress at home, but were instead humbled by an embarrassing scoreline at the Georgios Karaiskaki Stadium.

A superb 5th-minute free-kick by Tjarron Cherry gave the visitors a shock lead, which remained in tact until after the hour mark when Maccabi cut their opponents apart three times to secure an historic victory. For Martins the result even led to questions about his future, despite him leading Olympiacos to three straight Super League titles.

“The word resignation does not exist in my vocabulary, in many things in my life I have not thought of resigning and I will not do that at Olympiakos,” Martins said after being asked if he sees himself continuing in his role. “I will continue to work and face the difficulty, as I have done so far in my life, because I do not have the words "give up" in my vocabulary.

“I feel capable and strong, I will never stop believing in my team and players. We are going through one of the most difficult moments in the team's history. I understand the questions but I feel that there is always strength because I will never stop believing in the team.

“We started the game well despite conceding a quick goal and trying to turn it around. The second half was bad from our side. In the first half the quick goal changed our plans. I understand the difficulty of the situation: we have missed out on our first target of the season and I take responsibility. But tomorrow is a new day and we have to really change this picture.”

By Sean Gillen


Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What?? Jorge Jesus, the 5 time Champions League winner? How did this happen? Oh right, JJ in Europe is a joke. I wouldn't write this if he wasn't such a delusional egomaniac.

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