Lions tamed as Madrid runs roughshod over Galatasaray in 4-1 win
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores on a first-half free kick against Galatasaray. Los Blancos would go on to dispatch Galatasaray 4-1. REUTERS photoGalatasaray’s hopes of progressing to the second round of the Champions League for a second straight season are in serious danger after the Lions went out with a whimper instead of a roar in falling 4-1 to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The match was indicative of Cim Bom’s European campaign so far this season, with flashes of brilliances frequently overshadowed by much longer periods of extreme mediocrity during which their hosts – despite missing the services of one Cristiano Ronaldo – seemed to toy with their Turkish visitors.
Stung that their 1-0 defeat three weeks ago away to FC Copenhagen had severely jeopardized their possible progression to the second round, Galatasaray pressed for an early opener. There are few better counter-attacking sides than Real Madrid, however, and Los Blancos quickly carved the Lions open, springing record signing Gareth Bale in just three minutes into the game, only for the Welshman to shoot wide of Eray İşcan’s post when he seemed destined to score.
Real appeared to settle more quickly, frequently threatening to make the incisive move inside Cim Bom’s box to score the opening goal, but Galatasaray suddenly found themselves with a brilliant chance to take command of the game when defender Sergio Ramos was given his marching orders in the 26th minute for pulling back Umut Bulut with the Turk through clear on Iker Casillas’s goal. Selçuk İnan’s resulting free kick, however, flew directly into the arms of Casillas after taking a deflection off the wall.
Ronaldo is Real’s undoubted free-kick taker, but Bale ably deputized for the Portuguese star, finding the back of Eray’s net in minute 37 from what seemed an interminable distance following a foul by the ever-mercurial Felipe Melo. But while Bale’s shot had accuracy, his shot from distance could hardly have done more to draw attention to the absence of injured number-one Fernando Muslera, as the stand-in ’keeper entirely misjudged the flight of Bale’s ball into the top corner of the net.
All was forgotten within a minute, however, as Umut equalized after taking Didier Drogba’s excellent pass to slot past Casillas for his team-leading third Champions League strike of the season.
Real strolls to victory with dominant second half
Umut looked to have scored his second of the match on the other side of the break, but the strike was waved off on a narrow offside decision. Galatasaray’s defenders were left appealing for offside just moments later when Alvaro Arbeloa turned in a cross, but they had only themselves to blame for getting caught ball-watching when replays proved the assistant referee right in allowing the play to continue.
Arbeloa was at the center of affairs again just four minutes later in minute 55 when he went down in the Galatasaray penalty area, appealing for a penalty. Scottish official William Collum, however, bravely dismissed the Bernabeu’s demand for a spot kick to issue Arbeloa with a yellow card for diving.
Real’s urgency in seeking to win the contest may not have been as high as Galatasaray’s, but the Merengues always seemed likely to score more as the second half progressed. A third strike duly arrived in the 63rd minute when Angel di Maria turned in Arbeloa’s pass to put the hosts in cruise control.
With the result a formality, many supporters took to entertaining themselves by donning one of the 45,000 Ronaldo facemasks that the hosts handed out to fans as part of a campaign to support the injured Portuguese ace’s bid to win this season’s Ballon d’Or.
At the other end, Casillas’ position as Real’s undisputed number one might be over, but the living legend showed his quality in the 71st minute by reaching high to tip Drogba’s header out for a corner when the Ivorian’s shot seemed destined for the back of the net.
Real’s fourth on 81 minutes seemed almost ludicrously easy, as summer signing Isco did his best Playstation impression, avoiding a sliding tackle from Selçuk with a minimum of fuss before nonchalantly finishing past Eray as ranks of red-shirted Galatasaray defenders futilely looked on.
For Galatasaray, it seemed almost laughable that the club still had a mathematical chance of overhauling Los Blancos in the group going into the evening, such was the ultimate gulf between the two sides. If anything, the Lions can take comfort from succeeding in restricting Real to just four goals following September’s disastrous 6-1 reverse in Istanbul.
With Juventus finally picking up its first win of the campaign – a 3-1 victory at home to Copenhagen – Galatasaray knows that anything less than a victory over the Old Lady in a fortnight in Istanbul will ensure their exit from the premier continental club competition.
Madrid, meanwhile, guaranteed first place in the group with the victory.