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Galatasaray left facing tricky trip to Schalke

Updated: 2013-02-22 07:11
By Agence France-Presse in Istanbul ( China Daily)

Galatasaray left facing tricky trip to Schalke

Galatasaray midfielder Nordin Amrabat has admitted the ambitious Turkish team faces an uphill task to stay in the Champions League after its 1-1 draw at home to Schalke 04 in its last-16, first-leg.

The Royal Blues take a slim advantage back to Gelsenkirchen for the return leg on March 12 after Burak Yilmaz gave Galatasaray an early lead, before US midfielder Jermaine Jones leveled for Schalke on the stroke of halftime.

"The formula for victory is very simple: We need to score and win, but it won't be easy," said Amrabat after Wednesday's game.

Schalke 04 ignored poor recent form to hold the host and could have left the Turk Telekom Arena with a win after missing a host of chances as Galatasaray, including star signings Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, failed to fire.

The Royal Blues arrived in Istanbul with one win in their past 12 games, but, along with neighbor Borussia Dortmund and Juventus, are now one of only three undefeated teams left in this season's Champions League.

"We are really happy with the result," beamed goalscorer Jones.

"We made one or two mistakes and conceded the goal, but altogether we played well.

"Our goal was important, we'll see how things go from here. We have earned a lot of respect."

However, Jones is suspended for the return leg after his appeals for a booking against Selcuk Inan saw him earn a yellow card of his own on 35 minutes.

"The action which led to my yellow card was dumb from me, I hope I can still play in the quarterfinal," he said.

Schalke has now lost just one of its past 10 European away fixtures, including victories at Olympiakos and Arsenal.

With Dortmund having earned a 2-2 draw at Donetsk and after Bayern Munich's impressive 3-1 win at Arsenal on Tuesday, all three Bundesliga clubs have a strong chance of making the quarterfinals.

"It was a great game from my team, it was a very compact and engaged team performance" said relieved Schalke coach Jens Keller, who was making his Champions League debut as coach.

"We created a few chances, but unfortunately didn't take them all."

Schalke's rising star, Julian Draxler, who made three appearances for the senior Germany team last year, said the draw was an important confidence booster.

"We put in a focused performance and are in a good position ahead of the return leg," said the 19-year-old midfielder.

"We have experienced some problems in the past few weeks, but with today's performance we can go into the return leg with some confidence."

Despite Drogba and Sneijder making their Champions League debuts for the Turkish club since joining last month from Shanghai Shenhua and Inter Milan respectively, both had quiet games as the host failed to dominate.

"In the first half, the atmosphere was really intense, but it wasn't so bad after the break," said Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.


Yilmaz continues to shine in shadow of Drogba

With the spotlight on Didier Drogba, it was his new strike partner Burak Yilmaz who grabbed the headlines with his seventh goal in seven Champions League appearances this season in the 1-1 draw with Schalke on Wednesday.

He showed his class early in the last-16 first-leg match when he picked up a pass from Selcuk Inan with a deft flick past a defender before powering in a shot past Schalke keeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead.

Equal top scorer in the competition with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Yilmaz has this season repeatedly repaid the support he has received from Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim.

"I'm pleased for Burak Yilmaz, with every day he is trying to improve and overcome his weaknesses and I'm pleased with that," Terim said.

(China Daily 02/22/2013 page22)

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