Galatasaray, Cluj settle for stalemate

BY foxsports • October 23, 2012

Burak Yilmaz scored a late equalizer following an own goal on Tuesday, to give Galatasaray a 1-1 draw with 10-man CFR Cluj in their Champions League match played under heavy rain on a waterlogged pitch.

Substitute Yilmaz's 77th-minute strike gave Galatasaray its first goal and first point in the competition. Cluj is now second in group H with four points behind Manchester United.

The visitors had three attempts on goal within the first three minutes of the game but it was a shot by Pantelis Kapetanos in the 19th that hit Galatasaray's Dany Nounkeu and rebounded into the net that put Cluj ahead.

The second half featured relentless pressure from Galatasaray that paid off when Yilmaz headed home from a cross by Nordin Amrabat.

The rain-soaked pitch hampered both sides' ability to control the ball and stay on their feet. Both sides were forced to abandon their normal short-passing game and resort to booting the ball up the field.

With the players sliding on the wet field, the referee awarded multiple free kicks and issued several yellow cards. Cluj's Matias Aguirregaray was sent off for a second yellow in the 28th minute for a late tackle on Selcuk Inan.

''The big story was the pitch,'' said Amrabat, interviewed on Turkey's NTV television. ''If it wasn't raining so much we would have had a better result . Because of the pitch we had to play long balls.''

Mario Felgueiras blocked a shot from Elmander in the 29th minute to make a spectacular save and six minutes later saved a Galatasaray penalty, which was poorly taken by Felipe Melo.

''They were lucky with the goal, (whereas) we missed a penalty,'' Amrabat said. ''We still keep our hopes alive. We can still qualify from the group.''

Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim blamed the pitch for the teams' problems.

''To struggle under such conditions, to score a goal when you desperately need it is difficult when you are faced with such a pitch,'' he said. ''We weren't expecting to draw (but) it is better than a defeat.''

Cluj manager Ioan Andone also bemoaned the pitch.

''If the conditions had been better it could have been a different match,'' Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying. ''We could even have returned with three points.''