Beşiktaş ‘in next round amongst the best’

Beşiktaş ‘in next round amongst the best’

ISTANBUL
Beşiktaş ‘in next round amongst the best’

Turkish champion Beşiktaş has reached the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in 31 years, after drawing 1-1 with Porto in Istanbul and wrapping up top spot of Group G on Nov. 21.

“We did not disappoint our supporters this time and we got the needed score to qualify,” said coach Şenol Güneş after the game.

“To remain at the top, one has to be hungry for success all the time. Our confidence is building with every achievement. Now we’ll see what we can do in the next round amongst the best,” Güneş added.

Porto silenced the vociferous home crowd with the opening goal of the game through defender Felipe, but the home team equalized before half-time as Anderson Talisca scored his third goal in the competition this season.

It is the first time Beşiktaş has progressed from its group since the competition was reformatted in 1992, after it was thrashed 6-0 at Dynamo Kiev in its final group game last season when a win would have put them through.

“We’re through to the round of 16 for the first time and for that Beşiktaş deserve congratulations,” center-back Pepe, who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid, told uefa.com.

“We controlled the game well and in the end celebrated qualification in front of our own fans.”

But it was not a bad result for Porto, who will join Beşiktaş in the next round with a home win over a hopeless Monaco in its final group match on Dec. 6.

Last year’s semi-finalists crashed out of the Champions League when it was beaten at home 4-1 by Leipzig later on Nov. 21.

“It was one of the games that any player would want to play in, with the backdrop of a wonderful atmosphere,” said Porto defender Maxi Pereira.

“We now have a game in front of our own fans and we will depend on ourselves [to get through],” he added.

Güneş made just one change to the team that were held in Istanbul by Monaco three weeks ago, with Brazilian attacking midfielder Talisca taking the place of Oğuzhan Özyakup.

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas was once again left on the bench by Porto boss Sergio Conceicao in favor of Jose Sa.

The home side started strongly with Talisca inches away from diverting in a vicious cross from former Porto man Ricardo Quaresma, before Ryan Babel drew a diving save from Sa with a dipping long-range strike.

But Porto grabbed a 29th-minute lead with an excellently-worked free-kick down the right-hand side.

Quaresma and Babel switched off, with Ricardo Pereira bursting clear and crossing low for center-back Felipe to send a first-time finish flying into the roof of the net.

The hosts almost leveled shortly afterwards as Portugal international Quaresma’s powerful volley was well-saved by Sa.

But the Turkish giants hit back four minutes before half-time as striker Cenk Tosun cut inside and unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Talisca, on loan from Benfica, to tap into an empty net.

Besiktaş was by far the better team at the start of the second period and Babel, whose recent form earned him a first Netherlands call-up since 2011 in September, almost put them ahead.

The former Liverpool winger beat two visiting defenders, but crashed a rasping effort off the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Porto was hanging on as Beşiktaş continued to dominate, and Sa flew to his right to tip over Quaresma’s left-footed shot, before Ricardo miskicked wide at the other end when he should have scored.

But the game slowed down late on as Beşiktaş closed out the draw with little trouble to banish the memories of 12 months ago.

beşiktaş, Porto, Champions League