Galatasaray beats Benfica 2-1 to kickstart campaign
AP photoGalatasaray rebounded after conceding an early goal to beat Benfica with two first-half strikes on Oct. 21, reviving its Champions League hopes in Group C after a disappointing start to the campaign.
The victory ended Galatasaray’s 10-game winless streak in the Champions League.
The key to victory was playing with enthusiasm and ambition, as well as fighting together, according to Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu.
“It’s nice to win in the Champions League after such a long time,” he said after the game.
“My players believed we could win so it didn’t matter that we fell behind. Looking at our upcoming fixtures, many think we don’t have much of a chance qualifying from this group. We will plan to get the best results we can from our visits to Atletico and Benfica, but it won’t be easy considering we’re away from home.”
The Istanbul club was shocked in the second minute when Nicolas Gaitan put the visitor ahead after he received the ball in the penalty area, stepped inside Aurelien Chedjou and fired past keeper Fernando Muslera.
But Galatasaray captain Selçuk İnan hit back in the 19th minute, scoring from the penalty spot after Andre Almeida handled in the area.
Lukas Podolski continued the home side’s momentum in the 33rd minute when he ran to a long ball from Chedjou along the right and drove a left-foot shot past keeper Julio Cesar.
The second half started with a flurry of goal efforts with both keepers making saves, Wesley Sneijder firing from long distance against the post and Benfica failing to hit the target after some attack moves.
But the home side gradually fell back into firm defense and kept the Lisbon visitors at bay.
The result still leaves Galatasaray third with four points, behind Benfica on six, who’s level with leader Atletico Madrid that beat Astana 4-0.