Galatasaray 2-2 Copenhagen: Late drama in Istanbul salvages share of the spoils for Galatasaray

Seeking to extend their unblemished historic head-to-head record with Danish sides to three matches, with incidentally one of those victories coming against Copenhagen close to a decade ago, Galatasaray manager Okan Buruk made the one change from their 4-2 Süper Lig victory over Samsunspor at the weekend, as on-loan Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech replaced Tetê.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen made two changes from their domestic 2-2 draw with Nordsjælland, as Jordan Larsson and Lukas Lerager were restored to the Lions’ XI.

GAL: Muslera; Boey, Nelsson, Bardakcı, Angeliño; Demirbay, Torreira; Mertens; Aktürkoğlu; Hakim Ziyech; Icardi

COP: Grabara, Diks, Vavro, Jelert, Meling; Lerager, Gonçalves, Falk; Achouri, Elyounoussi, Jordan Larsson

Winless in their last appearance in the UEFA Champions League in 2019/20, defending Süper Lig champions Galatasaray dominated the early attacking proceedings in Istanbul, as only an instinctive one-handed save from Copenhagen goalkeeper Kamil Grabara denied the in-form Mauro Icardi from netting the game’s opening goal.

Victorious in only one of their previous 12 UCL matches, excluding qualifiers, Copenhagen unsurprisingly found themselves with their backs against the defensive wall as only the sound of Fernando Muslera’s reverberating crossbar prevented Kerem Aktürkoğlu’s fearsomely-struck side-footed effort from breaking the deadlock.

However, against the run of play, Copenhagen would open the scoring in the 35th minute, as Mohamed Elyounoussi brought an eerie silence around the stadium with an exquisite piece of skill, which saw the former Southampton attacking asset majestically chest down the ball before dropping a ruthless volley beyond the grasp of Muslera.

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Without a win throughout the group stages of last season’s competition, Copenhagen would strike Galatasaray with a second footballing sucker punch shortly before the hour-mark, as Birger Meling’s cross was expertly steered into the back of an unexposed net by Diogo Gonçalves, primarily down to Muslera’s rash decision to race off his goal line leaving him stranded in goalkeeping no man’s land. 

Unbelievably, the game would then be turned on its head in the space of a devastating two-minute spell from the hosts, as following Lukas Lerager’s dismissal for a second yellow card, defender Sacha Boey clinically ventured up from the back to halve the deficit with an unstoppable strike past Grabara.

Then, Galatasaray manager Okan Buruk’s decision to introduce Tetê from the home dugout would ultimately prove to be a piece of tactical genius, as the Brazilian fired a sublime strike past a now beleaguered-looking Grabara to send the majority inside of RAMS Park into euphoric celebrations. 

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Ultimately, late drama in Istanbul denied Copenhagen their first group-stage victory in the Champions League since December 2016. On the other hand, Galatasaray were able to extend their year-long unbeaten home record across all competitions that bit further.