Besiktas closer to knockout stage after 1-1 draw with Monaco
ISTANBUL (AP) — Besiktas moved a step closer to reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time and pushed Monaco nearer the exit after the sides drew 1-1 in a closely contested Group G game on Wednesday.
Striker Keita Balde missed a great chance to score the winner for Monaco deep into injury time, but his shot was easily gathered by home goalkeeper Fabri.
Rony Lopes put Monaco ahead in first-half injury time with a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area.
Cenk Tosun leveled from the penalty spot in the 54th minute after Brazilian defender Jorge brought down Ricardo Quaresma, sliding in carelessly just as the Portugal winger cut inside.
Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic guessed the right way on Tosun’s penalty.
“I tried to keep calm and put it high,” Tosun said. “Subasic managed to get a touch on it, congratulations to him.”
Besiktas has 10 points, but is not yet through.
“Qualifying for the next round means a lot to me. It means a lot for the club, too, both in terms of sports and economy,” Besiktas coach Senol Gunes said. “But had we lost, we could lose a lot of momentum in the group. Everything can turn upside down in a second.”
Porto is second with six points after beating Leipzig 3-1 Wednesday, while Leipzig has four points and Monaco — last season’s flamboyant semifinalist — only two.
Monaco has a remote chance of qualifying providing it wins at home to Leipzig and away to Porto with other results going its way.
Still, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim was proud of his team’s resilient performance.
“I’m happy, because my team tried to control the game and tried to play aggressive football, both in attack and defense,” he said. “I think the Monaco fans will be very happy with them, too.”
But the visitors lacked a cutting edge up front without top scorer Radamel Falcao, who sat out a second straight game for Monaco with muscle fatigue.
Monaco survived a frenetic start and had a chance in the 15th, but midfielder Youri Tielemans’ header from Thomas Lemar’s cross was saved by Fabri.
Soon after, Monaco lost Lemar — a major attacking threat — to injury. He was replaced by Stevan Jovetic.
Although Besiktas dominated most of the first half, Monaco midfielder Fabinho and center half Jemerson were outstanding in containing attacks. Tosun scored both goals when Besiktas won 2-1 away to Monaco two weeks ago, but center half Kamil Glik kept him quiet for large spells.
Monaco continued to threaten on the counterattack and Jovetic picked out Lopes running into the area, but the midfielder failed to properly connect with his sliding pass.
He made no mistake next time, curling the ball superbly past Fabri and into the bottom corner after Joao Moutinho won possession and fed him with a quick pass.
Without Lemar or Falcao, Moutinho’s quick eye was Monaco’s biggest threat.
The Portugal midfielder’s superb pass over the top put Balde clean through midway through the second half, but defender Dusko Tosic showed great timing to tackle him.
Quaresma and winger Ryan Babel squandered late opportunities, while Jemerson’s 88th-minute header from Moutinho’s free kick went straight into Fabri’s arms.
Moutinho then made a superb tackle in the area to deny Quaresma.
In a tense five minutes of injury time, Balde had victory at his feet in the 93rd, after Moutinho put him through inside the left of the area.
Balde tried to curl it in, but his shot was too low and lacked power.
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