Thursday night was truly a tragicomedy for Beşiktaş fans, as the Black Eagles led their game against Lyon 1-0 for 83 minutes, only to lose it 2-1, all within a two-minute window.
Unsurprisingly, everyone is talking about Beşiktaş goalkeeper Fabri's fumble and blaming him for the defeat. But let's be honest, the Turkish champions, except for their goal from a dead ball, did not create a decent scoring opportunity throughout the game. It was obvious that coach Şenol Güneş travelled to Lyon for a draw.
Lyon, on the other hand, were not far ahead of their Turkish rivals. But, despite their unimpressive show, the French side found five clear opportunities in the second half, before eventually netting the equalizer. Some better finishing for the home side could have produced a different result.
On Thursday night, "beating Lyon" was never part of Güneş's game plan and it was obvious, right from the beginning, when Dusko Tosic, the usual center back, was pushed up to a defensive midfielder's position while the usual defensive midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup took over the attacking midfielder's duties.
Although both Özyakup and Tosic are eligible to play in those areas, it was obvious that these positional changes were made only to fortify Beşiktaş's defenses, which almost never participated in the attacking moves, leaving Beşiktaş with just five men at the front.
Furthermore, I hoped Ricardo Quaresma's absence would force Güneş to opt for a more organized offensive strategy, but he went the opposite way.
Anderson Talisca and Ryan Babel's main role on the flanks were to cover the defensive line against Lyon attacks as striker Cenk Tosun, who usually plays as a target man rather than a fast counter-attacking striker, was left alone and helpless in the front.
With Ryan Babel's goal in the first half, Beşiktaş almost abandoned any attacking intent, if they had any before the game. The rest was all guesswork as Lyon struck late to score the equalizer eventually, with a little help from Fabri, overtook Beşiktaş.
As for Lyon, given their second half performance, it would be unjust to say they did not deserve to win the match. But, their attacking performance was terrible in the first half and if it had not been for Beşiktaş's mistakes, they may not have scored the second goal.
The team rely heavily on Nabil Fekir and Mathieu Valbuena's individual talent to score and there was no visible pattern or variation in their offense. Even though Beşiktaş's wings were vulnerable to attacks, Lyon could not utilize this weakness. They are still a dangerous team, but Beşiktaş may likely better them in Istanbul, if they cannot come up with a more precise plan in attack.
The reason why I criticized Beşiktaş's former goalkeeper Tolga Zengin so much in this column was that he never took risks and seemed like a safe goalkeeper, doing much less than he could do. Fabri, on the other hand, always takes risks and until Thursday night, Beşiktaş benefited from his brave decisions.
For the first time, he made a simple but awful mistake, and now everyone is bashing him. But, what they tend to ignore is how a brave and decisive character is not needed to become a successful goalie and any goalkeeper in the world can make simple mistakes at any time. I still believe that Fabri is a good goalkeeper and he does his job well, those who want a scapegoat should explain why their team could not create enough opportunities in the first place.