Chelsea were pegged back by Turkish side Galatasaray with a second half goal from Aurelien Chedjou enough to earn the home side a 1-1 draw and keep them in the tie. The Blues will be confident of finishing the job on home soil but after having started brightly they will be disappointed to have only come away from Istanbul with a draw.
Of course, avoiding defeat and scoring an away goal would have been two of Chelsea’s main objectives but Jose Mourinho was left once more to rue the inefficiency of his strikers. The game was billed as a battle between Didier Drogba and his former club and how Mourinho must have longed for a player of the quality the Ivorian displayed during his peak years with the Pensioners.
Fernando Torres started the game brightly, linking play and looking sharp and the Spaniard got his reward after just 10 minutes when he silenced the home crowd with the opener. The hosts were far too open in the early stages, committing men forward and maintaining a high defensive line and when an attack broke down Cesar Azpilicueta – improving with every game – countered quickly before squaring for Torres who had an easy finish.
However, rather than serving to boost his confidence, Torres reverted to recent form after the goal and any hope that he might put in a really dominant performance was quashed when he wasted a good chance early in the second half. Fernando Muslera made a solid save but Torres should have done better from 15 yards after fine work by Eden Hazard. In a game of few real chances such profligacy was shown to be costly when Gala equalised not long after.
Unbeaten in 16 games at the Turk Telecom Arena, Roberto Mancini’s side had struck the post moments before they scored. Skipper Selcuk Inan saw his effort after a Drogba header rebound off the woodwork but his frustration was short-lived as soon after Chedjou converted Wesley Sneijder’s corner to keep the home side firmly in the game.
All in all it was a disappointing game and Mancini may feel he got the better of Mourinho, the man that replaced him at Inter Milan and with whom there is little love lost, as the game turned on a tactical change made by the Italian after just 31 minutes. Mancini, aware that the Chelsea full backs were getting too much space on the break, replaced winger Izet Hajrovic and switched to 4-5-1 with central midfielder Yekta Kurtulus providing more cover against the visitors’ attacks.
Whilst Mourinho bemoaned his team’s lack of cutting edge, on this occasion he may have to accept that a draw was not such a bad result at an intimidating ground. The Blues undoubtedly lack that X factor in the final third but it is not so much the strikers missing chances as the side – for whatever reason – not creating enough really good openings.
Tactical musings aside, however, at 1-1 John Terry – rarely troubled here – and co will be highly confident of progression, with a win or a clean sheet enough to see them through to the quarters, possibly as sole English representatives.