Chelsea held by Galatasaray in Champions League
ISTANBUL (AP) — Fernando Torres scored a valuable away goal for Chelsea in a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, but the Premier League side left Istanbul frustrated at its failure to build on its superior start.
Torres scored the first goal by an English team in the knockout phase of the Champions League this season when he met Cezar Azpilicueta’s cutback in the ninth minute of their first leg match in the last 16.
But Chelsea failed to make the most of its counterattacks and the Turkish champions equalized in the second half after gaining in confidence and cutting out their defensive mistakes.
Aurelien Chedjou put the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 64th after connecting with Wesley Sneijder’s corner.
“I wouldn’t want to say that’s a great result, we all now know what a strong team they are,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “So (I’m a) little bit disappointed today really at halftime it wasn’t more than one nil up. I think we played very well first half, we controlled it.
“They didn’t have any chances and we have about four or five very good counterattacks, and we didn’t make more of them.”
Unlike Chelsea, Real Madrid is virtually certain of a place in the quarterfinals after Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo each scored a brace in a spectacular 6-1 victory at Schalke in the night’s other game.
By contrast, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was already bracing for his side’s second leg match in west London on March 18.
“They have very powerful strikers and we are going to have a difficult time at Stamford Bridge — that’s for sure,” Mourinho said.
The pre-match build-up centered on the Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba facing the team he won the Champions League with in 2012. But it was another former Premier League regular who played a key role as Chelsea took an early lead — for the wrong reasons.
Former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue was dispossessed too easily inside the Chelsea half, allowing Mourinho’s side to launch a counterattack down the left flank. Andre Schurrle fed the advancing defender Azpilicueta, who cut the ball back for the unmarked Torres to side-foot into an open net.
The hosts were leaving themselves too exposed, and unable to cause Chelsea many problems. The closest they came to leveling before the break was Izet Hajrovic sending a shot over the top.
The winger, though, was substituted in the 31st, with Yekta Kurtulus coming on as coach Roberto Mancini responded to the poor start.
“The game started and we did three of four mistakes,” Mancini said. “Maybe in the first half we played too deep, with fear.”
But Chelsea would pay for not making the most of its confident start, with Ramires volleying over.
Galatasaray’s defense looked as fragile at the start of the second half. Felipe Melo’s clearance went straight to Eden Hazard, who ran through the center and released Torres. Although the striker broke through the defense, his shot was saved by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
“We had too much respect for Chelsea ... we should have played more offensively without problems like in the second,” Mancini said.
Galatasaray recovered from its shaky start and proved a much tougher opponent after the break.
“We had chances to kill the game,” Mourinho said. “I’m not critical of my strikers because my strikers did a very good game, but overall when we go to counterattack situations we are missing the last pass, the last control, the last choice ... the second goal would have changed the story of the game.”
It never came.
The woodwork did deny Galatasaray. Drogba headed down from Sneijder’s delivery to Selcuk Inan, who hit the post.
But Mancini’s side found the target barely a minute later. Sneijder swung in a corner from the left, Chedjou turned the ball in from close range after getting in front of Chelsea captain John Terry.
“We probably deserved to score another goal,” Mancini said.
Indeed, Cech only spared Chelsea from traveling back to London needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit, by tipping over Alex Telles’ swerving shot after William gave the ball away.
“We weren’t passing it like we was in the first half,” Lampard said. “A few things were disappointing. It’s one of those results — you are kind of happy with it, but we have still got a lot of work to do.”