Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

    The former Arsenal playmaker kicked a clutch of water bottles at pitchside and threw his shirt off as he exited the game

    Mesut Ozil was left fuming following his second-half substitution during Fenerbahce’s 2-2 draw with Royal Antwerp in Thursday’s Europa League clash, with the ex-Germany star offering a public display of anger at the decision to take him off.

    The former Arsenal playmaker kicked a clutch of water bottles at pitchside and threw his shirt off as he exited the game shortly after Pieter Gerkens had struck just beyond the hour mark for an ultimate match-saving point.

    It meant that the spoils between the Super Lig side and the Belgian First Division A outfit were shared at Ulker Stadyumu – but it will be veteran star Ozil’s actions that likely dominate discussion over the next few days.

    What happened?

    Having fought back from Mbwana Samatta’s opener inside two minutes through an Enner Valencia double to lead, Fenerbahce were unable to find a third to put the game beyond reach before Gerkens tied things up again.

    The equaliser came amid a poor performance for Ozil, who failed to register a shot, be it on or off-target, throughout the first two-thirds of the match, while the German also went throughout without providing a single key pass in attack.

    Coach Vitor Pereira subsequently opted to hook him for Dimitrios Pelkas, prompting a furious response from the 33-year-old midfielder, who took his anger out on the water bottles as he exited the field, duly punting them before throwing off his shirt.

    What has been said?

    Speaking after the match, Pereira refused to condemn Ozil’s actions, instead praising his performance in a game where his side struggled to hold onto the ball throughout, while conceding that he was unsure whether it was the right call.

    “We needed more intensity and some fresh blood,” he added. “Mesut did well today, he can do well on the ball but today we had difficulty in keeping possession. For sure I cannot know what would happen if we did not bring him off.”

    The bigger picture

    Ozil will hope that his outburst does not keep him from a starting berth when Fenerbahce get back to Super Lig action this coming weekend, when they face Alanyaspor.

    Their draw in Group B however has left them facing an uphill task to reach the knockout stages of the Europa League, with both Eintracht Frankfurt and Olympiacos more than three points ahead of them.

    They could still yet prolong their continental exploits into the new year however, with a third-place finish set to see them transferred to the Europa Conference League knockout stages.

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