Lille, France, Dec 8: Goalkeeper Tolga Zengin made a series of fine saves as Trabzonspor scraped a 0-0 draw at Lille that put both sides out of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Both sides needed a win to guarantee a place in the next round along with Inter Milan, but despite Lille dominating for the entire match, the French champion could not find a way past Zengin.
Zengin kept out efforts from Moussa Sow and Eden Hazard, and it looked like the Turkish side was heading into the next round until CSKA's late goal secured a 2-1 win at Inter.
“We fought really hard in the game. We feel a bitter joy now because we hoped to carry on in the Champions League. That was the plan,” Trabzonspor defender Giray Kacar said. “In my opinion, Lille was the best team of the group.”
Lille finished bottom of Group B and failed to even qualify for the Europa League, with Trabzonspor taking that spot.
“We tried everything we could tonight, I don't know if we have anything to reproach ourselves for,” Lille midfielder Ludovic Obraniak said. “We created a lot of chances, and we just missed out on scoring in the first half.
“They defended very well, but I think the first match against CSKA Moscow cost us qualification.”
Trabzonspor players looked distraught when news filtered through that CSKA had won and leapfrogged both teams.
“It's cruel, we had no luck. We just couldn't get that goal to take us into the last 16,” Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. “We played to a very high standard in the first half, we should have carried on like that in the second half.”
Garcia used Sow in a lone striker's role with Dimitri Payet, Joe Cole and Hazard playing behind him in an attack-minded formation.
Lille made a bright start and Sow got his first sight of goal in the fifth minute, cutting inside defender Marek Cech but shooting straight at Zengin.
Zengin's next save was superb as he dived to his left to get a firm hand to Hazard's effort after the Belgium midfielder had dribbled past three players and arrowed a shot toward the bottom corner.
Hazard was proving a real handful and should have scored in the 17th when he swapped passes with Sow on the edge of the penalty area but then drilled his shot just wide with only Zengin to beat.
The Turkish side hardly got out of its own half in the first half, with Zengin keeping out a long shot from midfielder Florent Balmont and Cole shooting just wide after running onto a superb flick from Hazard.
Sought after by most of Europe's top clubs, the 20-year-old Hazard continued to cause problems after the break, and Zengin again had to be alert to palm away his drive in the 50th.
Lille kept the pressure on, and Didier Zokora did brilliantly to block Cole's shot as the former Chelsea midfielder found space to angle a shot that looked certain to go in.
“Our plan was to play very deep against Cole, Hazard and Sow, and not to lose,” Zokora said. “We struggled a lot but we stayed disciplined right until the end. It's a shame that CSKA won.”
Trabzonspor came for a draw that would have been enough—on the dangerous assumption Inter would not lose to CSKA.
“It was a strange choice from Trabzonspor,” Garcia said. “Because by refusing to (attack), they didn't qualify either.”
The Turkish players defended valiantly, throwing themselves in front of the ball whenever Lille got into the penalty area.
Lille struggled to find space as the second half wore on. With a little more than 20 minutes left, Garcia took off Cole and replaced him with Obraniak.
Inevitably, Lille left gaps as players pushed up in numbers and Trabzonspor almost scored on a counterattack when Burak Yilmaz found space on the right and his rising shot forced ‘keeper Mickael Landreau into action for the first time.
Garcia threw on an extra striker, with Ronny Rodelin coming on for Payet with five minutes remaining.
The Turks did not seem to realize they needed a goal themselves, and Zengin and Cech looked at each other in shock at the final whistle when they realized the draw was not enough.