Manchester United’s Nani misses a penalty against Galatasaray. German referee Wolfgang Stark, however, did not award a blatant penalty to Galatasaray in the game. AP photo
Galatasaray lost 1-0 to Manchester United in its first game in the Champions League campaign, but the Lions deserve some credit for their battle against the English heavyweights.
An early goal by Michael Carrick gave Manchester United the victory, but everything could have been different at Old Trafford on Sept. 18 if the German
referee had been courageous enough to punish defender Nemanja Vidic’s foul against Umut Bulut as a penalty 33 seconds after the kick-off.
Stark was, however, so generous in placing the ball on the spot after Rafael da Silva was brought down by Burak Yılmaz in an almost identical position to where Vidic fouled Bulut.
Despite a 1-0 defeat against United, Galatasaray’s return to the Champions League after a six year hiatus was remarkable. Coach Fatih Terim’s squad have proven they belong in this league with their outstanding performance on the pitch that caused United to remain in a defensive position rather than seek counter attacks to secure the match after Carrick’s early goal.
In a show of pure self-confidence, Terim praised his team’s performance saying “our players have shown a good resistance. Our kids fought until the last moment. But we have some problems in finishing. What was important here was to challenge United and to force them to try to kill the time in the last moments of the match.”
Terim did not miss out on the chance to up the ante for a second match between the two in Istanbul, recalling Sir Alex Ferguson’s statement that they were worried before the match. “We will make Ferguson much more disturbed in Istanbul. The Arena will be in a very different atmosphere”, he told reporters after the match.
In the other game of the group, Cluj beat Braga 2-0. Galatasaray
will host Braga in its next game on Oct. 2. Cim Bom fans shame United fans
Not a group known to be silent during games, nearly 2,500 Galatasaray
fans cheered and screamed from the very beginning of the match, overshadowing nearly 71,000 United supporters present.
“It cost me 200 pounds as I had to buy the ticket from the black market. But every penny I paid was worth to it,” a Galatasaray
fan who came from London told me before the match. A group of members from Ultraslan, Galatasaray’s biggest supporter group, rallied in the streets chanting “We are the best! Galatasaray!” hours before the kick off.
Galatasaray’s fans were given due credit through twitter messages all throughout the night with Manchester supporters confessing they were beaten in the tribune.
Jack Thompson tweeted “Galatasaray’s 2,500 fans made Man. U’s 71,000 fans look silly tonight,” while Phil Jones said “I’m sure Man. United are meant to be home?! Their fans are getting embarrassed by Galatasaray
Among the spectators was Turkey’s Ambassador to London Ünal Çeviköz. Çeviköz expressed his satisfaction that there were no major incidents between the two team’s fans. “The match is going to be played in a very good atmosphere. We are surely very happy of it”, he said, adding he was to present a box of Turkish delight to his hosts at Manchester United.