Trabzonspor only a win away from Champs League last 16
Forward Halil Altıntop celebrates his goal that equalized the score for Trabzonspor against Inter.
Trabzonspor is only one victory away from qualifying for the Champions League last 16, following a 1-1 draw against Inter Milan on Nov. 22.
Inter Milan, already through to the Champions League last 16, topped Group B, and was definitely the happier side since Trabzonspor missed a flurry of chances.
Ricardo Alvarez put Inter ahead on 18 minutes but Halil Altıntop replied five minutes later for Trabzon who had stunned the Italians with a 1-0 win in their Champions League debut at the San Siro in September.
Inter had already qualified for the next stage thanks to Lille’s 2-0 win at CSKA Moscow earlier that day but second place is up for grabs heading into the final round of matches.
Trabzonspor has six points with their two rivals for second place on five going into next month’s fixtures when the Turks visit Lille while CSKA travels to Inter.
Speaking after the game, coach Şenol Güneş said that his team was in the driver’s seat.
“Starting the group we were written off but we have a serious chance coming to the last match day,” the former Turkish national team coach said. “We are in the second spot coming to the match day and we have our fate in our hands. Now we want to advance to the next round with a good result against Lille.”
The early pressure came from Trabzonspor with four shots at Inter’s goal in the first 10 minutes but the Italians took the lead with their first chance.
Argentine midfielder Alvarez surged into the penalty area, playing a wonderful one-two with fellow countryman Diego Milito before coolly slotting the ball home from 10 meters out.
However, five minutes later Trabzonspor got a deserved equalizer when Argentine attacking midfielder Gustavo Colman slid a short pass to Altıntop who thundered in a shot off the underside of the bar with the help of a slight deflection by defender Walter Samuel.
“It wasn’t important how the goal was scored or who scored it,” Altıntop said to Turkish broadcaster Star after the match. “It was important for Trabzonspor, that’s why we are all very happy.”
“We are satisfied with one point. I believe if we continue to work the way we did we will also get to the second round.”
The hosts only made the group stage after Turkish champions Fenerbahçe were barred in connection with a match-fixing investigation.
Altıntop said his side was performing well despite their Champions League inexperience.
“Despite this being our first campaign, we are really playing a good season,” the forward, whose twin brother Hamit also played for Real Madrid against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Nov. 22. “I hope we will be in the Champions League in future seasons and we can gain more experience.”
“If we continue this road I think we will get a good result at Lille and we will be the happier side.”
Additional Reuters report was used in this story.