Fri, Feb 28, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Chelsea in box seat after grabbing draw in Istanbul


Galatasaray’s Aurelien Chedjou, center, scores past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, left, in their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 first leg in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Chelsea have the upper hand in their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie with Galatasaray after coming away from a testing environment in Istanbul with a 1-1 first-leg draw on Wednesday.

The visitors led at halftime thanks to an early goal from Fernando Torres, but Galatasaray improved in the second half and restored parity after the hour mark when Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou found the net.

A draw was a fair reflection of the way the game went, but Chelsea will now hope to finish the job in the return leg at Stamford Bridge in London on March 18.

“This is Turkish football, it’s very emotional. Galatasaray are a big club with big players and it was not easy,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told Sky television. “The first half we had chances to kill the game, [but] it’s better to be 1-1 than 0-0.”

Meanwhile, his opposite number Roberto Mancini admitted his team’s second-half display also gives them a chance.

“We played very well and I’m confident after the second half,” Mancini said. “After this game we have a 40 percent chance to go through.”

Mourinho opted to select Torres in attack ahead of Samuel Eto’o in one of three changes to the team that beat Everton last weekend, with Ramires and Andre Schuerrle also coming in.

It proved to be an excellent decision as it was Torres who finished off a clinical breakaway to put the Blues in front with just nine minutes played, giving Chelsea the lead they deserved as their hosts paid for a poor start.

Former Arsenal man Emmanuel Eboue lost possession high up the field and Chelsea pounced down the left flank, Schuerrle releasing Cesar Azpilicueta, who advanced into the penalty and drew goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, before squaring for his fellow Spaniard to apply an easy finish.

It was a sixth goal in his past five Champions League starts for Torres and it briefly silenced the boisterous Turkish fans inside the impressive Turk Telecom Arena.

Chelsea could possibly have put the tie to bed in the minutes that followed, with Galatasaray utterly disorganized and poor in possession.

Willian had an effort comfortably stopped by Uruguayan Muslera, before Schuerrle’s low ball from the right — with the home defense at sixes and sevens — was met first time by Ramires on the edge of the area, but his shot flew high over the bar.

There was little by means of a response from Mancini’s men, with Didier Drogba unable to wriggle free from the marking of John Terry and Wesley Sneijder incapable of influencing proceedings from the left flank.

Winger Izet Hajrovic saw his long-range snap-shot saved by Petr Cech, but the recent signing from Swiss side Grasshopper Club Zurich was then the victim of a tactical switch by Mancini, who sent on central midfielder Yekta Kurtulus in his place and changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Gala improved after that and an Alex Telles cross had Cech panicked, before Burak Yilmaz put the ball in the net after a quickly-taken throw-in, but with an extra ball on the pitch at the time the Spanish referee disallowed the goal and booked Chelsea skipper John Terry for throwing one ball away.

A lively Torres almost made it 2-0 for Chelsea in the 52nd minute, bursting through the middle of the hosts’ back line, before seeing his shot turned behind for a corner by Muslera.

However, Galatasaray finally started to grow into the contest in the second half, the raucous crowd receiving a lift when Gary Cahill nearly turned the ball into his own net after intercepting a Burak Yilmaz pass intended for Drogba.

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