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Kuyt hails ´historic´ Fenerbahce victory

12 April 2013 16:16

Dirk Kuyt said it was a 'historic night' for Fenerbahce after the Turkish side progressed to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Leading 2-0 over Lazio from the first leg in Istanbul, the Super Lig side claimed a hard-earned 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico to progress to the final four of a major European competition for the first time in the club's history.

The forward was overjoyed by Fenerbahce's success, believing his side's achievement, along with Galatasaray's appearance in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, underlines just how rapidly the Turkish game is growing.

"This is really a historic night," the former Liverpool man told reporters in Rome. "We are closing the gap to (Europe's elite) more and more, and being in the semis is so important.

"Now we want to celebrate this success. Then we will focus to the next step. But we want to go to the final."

On-loan Juventus defender Reto Ziegler was just as enthused by Fenerbahce's progression to the semis.

"We are so happy," he added. "We have written a new history for the club.

"We knew the return match was going to be difficult. But we have proven ourselves in Europe. That is the reason why I chose to join Fenerbahce."

Fenerbahce are joined in the last four by Basel, Benfica and 2012 Champions League winners Chelsea.

Petkovic focuses on positives

12 April 2013 05:07

Lazio head coach Vladimir Petkovic refused to be downcast despite his side exiting the Europa League on Thursday.

Lazio drew with Fenerbahce 1-1 but lost their quarter-final tie 3-1 on aggregate and Petkovic will now need to pick up his side for Monday's Serie A clash with leaders Juventus, as they continue their quest to finish in the top three of the table.

"First of all my compliments to Fenerbahce for the result," Petkovic said.

"I hope they will prove their value in the semi-final too. Unfortunately, we paid the price from first leg result a lot."

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Senad Lulic's opener gave Lazio hope before Caner Erkin drew level for the visitors to seal Fenerbahce's passage into the last four.

"If it went differently there, I'm sure we would have qualified and they fought against the whole stadium tonight, too," Petkovic said.

"I cannot be angry with my players tonight, they played a good game, they gave all that they had, we led the game and dominated with 15 shots at goal to two.

"We missed that 10 percent, our supporters, the need to be at the right place in the right moment and a bit of luck too, because their goalkeeper saved balls with hands and feet.

"This happens in football, we paid various things, I'm proud of what my players have done up to now.

"Our adventure in the UEFA Europa League is over, we didn't want it, we wanted to win tonight's game and we tried until the 93rd minute of play."

Lazio now turn their attention to Juventus in what looms as a huge Serie A clash.

"Now let's rest and look ahead with our heads up and let's try to remain focused, rest a bit and then start over with another good game on Monday, finding the right men to play and trying to remain close to the top positions of the league, as well as winning the game against Juventus," Petkovic said.

Petkovic laments playing at empty stadium

10 April 2013 21:22

Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic says playing their Europa League tie with Fenerbahce behind closed doors on Thursday will not help the team.

The Serie A side trail the Turkish outfit 2-0 from the first leg and have to play the return game in an empty stadium after UEFA found their fans guilty of racist abuse during a clash against Tottenham earlier in the competition.

"It takes away something from our play," Petkovic told reporters.

"We played well against Stuttgart (when the stadium was closed). We must help each other and communicate a lot during the match."

The 49-year-old also stressed the importance of an early goal against their opponents as they seek to find a route back into the tie.

"Tomorrow we will need courage and patience, we will have to impose our game and try to score as soon as possible," he added.

"We have a less than 50 percent chance of going through but we have seen so many comebacks. The 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline for them."

The coach also laughed off suggestions that Italian sides are too physical with their man-marking at set-pieces in European competition.

"I do not think it's always our fault, maybe we should play basketball and mark the area to our adversaries, without touching them," he said.

Hernanes: Lazio hungry after Europe loss

7 April 2013 16:08

Lazio's Hernanes has warned rivals Roma he and his team-mates will be riled up after losing to Fenerbahce in Europa League in mid-week.

Lazio considered themselves hard done by after their 2-0 defeat in Turkey following a controversial red card and penalty, but the midfielder said they are now looking forward to the derby in Serie A on Monday.

"We are really angry about the way the game went against Fenerbahce," he told reporters.

"Now we've got to focus solely on Roma and maybe use that rage in our favour.

"This is the best opportunity for us to cancel out the Istanbul defeat and get kick-started again so we can then prepare for the second leg."

Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic was keen to point out his side had exceeded expectations by sitting above their Italian capital counterparts so late in the term.

Petkovic said his team must stay focused but praised his players for their position in the league and reaching the Europa League quarter-final and Coppa Italia final.

"In July we were not even considered to be candidates for European qualification. Nobody thought we could even compete," Petkovic said.

"I am very proud of the way our season is going. We are in good shape at the moment and I see the lads calm in training."

Lazio are sixth in Serie A, three points ahead of Roma.

Petkovic optimistic over Lazio task

5 April 2013 02:13

Vladimir Petkovic admits Fenerbahce have left Lazio with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify for the Europa League semi-finals.

Ogneyi Onazi's red card coupled with late strikes from Pierre Webo (penalty) and Dirk Kuyt consigned Lazio to a likely European elimination at the Sukru Saracoglu on Thursday.

And while their coach has been buoyed by the fact that the second leg is behind closed doors in Rome, their poor disciplinary record and significant deficit means their task is all the more difficult.

"Conceding three penalties and suffering two red cards in our last five Europa League games is far too steep. It's a pity, because at this level we deserve more support," Petkovic told Mediaset Premium after the match.

"The result can be overturned as Fenerbahce will not play in front of a crowd. I don't think playing behind closed doors in the second leg will affect us.

"We are used to it as they are. It's a shame that Mauri received a yellow for a 'foul'. We must fight against all odds."

Petkovic then looked ahead to the weekend's derby against Roma in Serie A and warned his Lazio players that they can have 'no excuses' for a below-par display, while providing the latest on the fitness of Miroslav Klose and Stefano Mauri.

"It's good to play in the derby next. We have so many important games left to play, so we have no excuses in terms of concentration and motivation when trying to get a result," the former Young Boys trainer said.

"Will Klose and Mauri be ready?' I don't know if they can play from the beginning. We will see their physical condition in the coming days."