Drogba provides night to remember in Galatasaray debut

Drogba provides night to remember in Galatasaray debut

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Drogba provides night to remember in Galatasaray debut

Drogba took the field in the 63rd minute, opening his account just four minutes later. AA photo

Legendary Ivorian forward Didier Drogba made a sensational start to his Galatasaray career tonight, blowing open a cagey 0-0 game by scoring within four minutes of taking the field before setting up a second strike in the Lions’ 2-1 victory over Akhisar Belediyespor.

Drogba, the club’s second massive transfer of the January window following Dutchman Wesley Sneijder, took the field in the 63rd minute, opening his account in spectacular fashion just four minutes later. Latching on to the end of a pinpoint cross from Galatasaray’s Burak Yılmaz, Drogba out-jumped Akhisar’s defense to send a header into the far corner of the net.

Drogba’s inclusion injected vibrancy into Galatasaray’s attack, which had hitherto struggled to break down the Aegean side. Akhisar remains at the opposite end of the table from the Lions, the Spor Toto Super League leader with 43 points. Akhisar remained on 20 points, four points from safety.

Three minutes after scoring his first for Galatasaray, Drogba turned provider, poking free a ball for Burak, the joint top scorer in the Champions League group stage, to score his 12th league goal of the season for the visitors.

Akhisar’s Sertan Vardar pulled a consolation goal back for the hosts in the 85th minute, but no one was able to overshadow Drogba’s entry onto the Turkish stage.

The game threatened to go pear-shaped for the champions just one minute before Drogba entered the match, as Greek marksman Theofanis Gekas, who was signed from Spain’s Levante over the winter to help the Manisa-based club avoid the drop, beat Lions goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, only to see his shot rebound off the post.

Sneijder, making his second start for Galatasaray since joining from Inter Milan, nearly scored his first for his new club in the 39th minute, but his lob was parried over the bar by Akhisar keeper Oğuz Dağlaroğlu. The Dutchman was replaced by Drogba’s countryman, Emmanuel Eboue, in the 79th minute.

The match was Galatasaray’s final tune-up before Feb. 20’s Champions League match against Germany’s Schalke 04 at Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.