Galatasaray to focus on league after humiliating Euro exit
ISTANBUL - Reuters
Arsenal's Lucas Podolski (L) vies for the ball with Galatasaray's Olcan Adın (R) during the UEFA Champions League group D football match Galatasaray vs Arsenal at TT Arena Stadium on December 9, 2014 in Istanbul. AFP PhotoGalatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu has said his team will now focus on domestic competition following a humiliating 4-1 loss at home to Arsenal in the Champions League.
“We want to improve as a group, work harder and become stronger,” Hamzaoğlu told a post-game press conference after the loss at Türk Telekom Arena on Dec. 9. “We would like to be successful in the league and the cup. We don’t want to let the fans down,” he added.
Lukas Podolski’s early opener was followed by a brace from Aaron Ramsey, including a brilliant 30-yard volley, before Podolski sealed the points in second half stoppage-time after Wesley Sneijder’s free kick reduced the deficit for Galatasaray.
“We conceded an early goal, which upset our balance and led to us not playing well,” said the Galatasaray coach. “In the second half we played better and became the dominant team. We struggled to find the goal we needed, however. Although we lost, the display in the second half makes us hopeful. I am pleased with my players and thank the fans who came to support us.”
Hamzaoğlu said the team lost three players, including striker Didier Drogba, who had helped Galatasaray reach the round of 16 last year, but their absence was not the reason for failing to qualify this year.
“There are other factors that are more crucial,” he said. “We need to develop our current players and strengthen some positions in order to look to the future with optimism. There are still players on my team who performed better than I expected.”
With the three-goal loss, Galatasaray finished the group stage with 19 goals conceded, the worst total for a Turkish club in that category.
Arsenal was forced to settle for a second place finish in Group D after Borussia Dortmund got the point it required with a 1-1 draw against Anderlecht to finish on top.
“We gave a strong response from the start,” Gunners coach Arsene Wenger said. “We looked dangerous every time we won the ball back, we had good penetration, we scored good goals and until half-time, I feel we were very strong.
“In the second half we suffered a bit more for two reasons -- some players did not have competitive enough games and especially I had to take two players off. But, overall, it was a strong performance,” he said.