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Stadium opener in Aleppo warms Turkish-Syrian relations

   
The Fenerbahce Yellow Canaries received a warm welcome in Aleppo on Tuesday night -- so warm that it caused the friendly match against Al-Ittihad to start two and half hours later than planned.

The friendly match -- held to mark the opening of Syria's Aleppo Olympic Stadium -- that pitted Aleppo's Al-Ittihad against the Fenerbahçe team, which hadn't visited Syria in 56 years, ended in a 2-2 draw. Syrian military units had to intervene to prevent the crowd swamping the guests, which included Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their spouses. Many Syrian government officials could not enter the stadium due to the overwhelming turnout of over 75,000 people waving Turkish and Syrian flags. The roads leading to the stadium were opened up by security forces.

While the first half of the game was dominated by counter-attacks from host Al-Ittihad, which rocketed into the game with a goal shot from 30 meters from the Turkish net during the ninth minute. In response Fenerbahçe tried to even the score, attacking from both the left and right wings. Semih came through for the Yellow Canaries 13 minutes into the game. Popovich sent the ball into the Turkish net in the 86th minute of the game -- giving the Syrian team a 2-1 leading advantage. Fenerbahçe responded to Al-Ittihad less than a minute later, bringing the final score to a 2-2 as Deniz sent the ball into the net with an assist from Alex.

While the friendly match played out in front of a full house, thousands were forced to wait outside -- unable to enter the brand new stadium.
  

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