SC Braga vs. Galatasaray: Final Score 1-2, Gala strike back to progress

Laurence Griffiths

Galatasaray came from behind to win against Braga and secure their qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Galatasaray are into the knockout stages in the Champions League for the first time in a decade after they struck back from a goal down to get a win against SC Braga.

The earliest chance of the game came to Mossoro. The Brazilian first went on a penetrating run into the Galatasaray area only to be blocked off, before getting on the end of a cut-back to smash the ball wastefully over from 12 yards.

Braga were clearly not going to lie down despite having nothing to play for, and Mossoro was involved again as the home side made the most of a dominant opening spell, slipping Eder through in miles of space, only for the striker to dawdle over his finish, allowing Felipe Melo to return to block his shot, which sailed over the bar. Immediately afterwards, the hosts almost took the lead again, Paolo Vinicius seeing his shot blocked from a cross by - guess who - Mossoro.

Despite Braga's domination, Burak Yilmaz was a threat on the break for the visitors. After first falling foul of a narrow offside goal, he once again managed to get clear of the home defence only to let himself down with a poor touch. Yet in truth, he was cutting a lonely figure, with the rest of his team failing to get control over the game.

On 32 minutes, with Braga still in control, it was no surprise to see that man Mossoro on the scoresheet. The Brazilian worked some space with Eder before firing a great finish into the bottom corner, and Galatasaray were looking in trouble.

Gala made two changes at half time in response, withdrawing the anonymous Johan Elmander for Nordin Amrabat, and also replacing Hamit Altintop with Aydin Yilmaz, but the effects were far from instant. Braga continued to enjoy control of the game, with Alan wasting another fine opportunity for the hosts. There was then yet more bad news for Galatasaray as Cluj took a remarkable 1-0 lead at Old Trafford.

The news may have only provoked Gala into action, though. The decision to introduce Nordin Amrabat to the game turned out to be a good one, as his cross found the lively Burak Yilmaz in the area to smash a fine header home. 1-1, and things were looking a lot better for Galatasaray.

As the second half ticked on, Galatasaray were looking barely any closer to finding a winner that would guarantee them progression, and they almost suffered disaster when Albert Riera blocked off Alan on the edge of the area whilst on a yellow card, but the former Liverpool winger somehow escaped punishment.

After gaining a goal from one substitute, Gala then found their way through with another - Burak Yilmaz's short was blocked by Quim, but his namesake Aydin Yilmaz was there to follow up the shot, putting Galatasaray into a 2-1 lead to break Cluj's hearts.

Gala made things nervy, and despite the disappointment for Cluj, it is remarkable that the Turkish side had not made the knockout stages for a decade until today. Their performances have steadily improved since their disastrous start this season, but they will need to be much better in the next round. Braga were unlucky to lose the game, but their poor defending and wasted chances were archetypal of inexperienced sides in Europe - they will have to improve at both ends of the pitch if they want to ever make a mark in Europe.

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