Galatasaray SK will be disappointed to have dropped two points at home against a resolute but rarely threatening Club Brugge KV side on an evening of few chances in Istanbul.
The home side enjoyed plentiful possession but the creative players all had a night off as Brugge went home with a thoroughly deserved draw. Brugge played out their game plan to perfection in the opening 45 minutes, denying the home side any space at all in the final third of the field.
Van der Heyden goes close
Chances were few for both sides but it was Peter Van der Heyden who twice came closest to opening the scoring, sending a ferocious free-kick just past goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon's right-hand post after just six minutes.
Two minutes later Norwegian Rune Lange sent a low cross right across the face of the Galatasaray goal but Van der Heyden narrowly failed to connect with the goal empty in front of him.
Galatasaray pushed forward with Arif Erdem posing the main threat. With nine minutes remaining of the first half, he made space for himself eight metres out but Dany Verlinden pulled off a quite brilliant save to deny him. Two minutes later the goalkeeper pulled off an even better save to deny Ümit Karan with a point-blank stop.
Over the bar
Galatasaray dominated the last 15 minutes, averaging 60 per cent of the possession, but the incisive touch in front of goal was missing all night. Ümit Karan capped a mediocre display right on half-time, blasting his shot over the bar from six metres.
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim brought on Elvir Balic in the place of the ineffective Hasan Sas at the start of the second half and the 28-year-old forward immediately added a liveliness previously lacking, shooting wide twice in his first four minutes on the pitch.
But neither Balic nor his team-mates in the Turkish attack were on form against a dogged Brugge outfit that defended resolutely the entire evening, rarely losing shape.
Arif in form
Arif looked the sole player likely to break the mould for the home side but too often he mislaid his final touch or did his best work outside the Brugge defensive zones.
The home crowd, so loud and voiciferous early on, quietened noticeably as the game wore on and the likelihood of a Galatasaray goal receded. With FC Barcelona beating FC Lokomotiv Moskva 3-1 earlier in the evening, it was imperative the Turkish team gained all three points to take themselves five points clear of Brugge.
A return visit to the Jan Breydelstadion and a daunting trip to Barcelona await and Brugge clearly saw the draw as a positive result. Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim's annoyance was visible as he paraded up and down the touchline, all to no avail.
The two chances of note for Galatasaray were not followed up and Brugge could have stolen the game had substitute Andrés Mendoza showed more composure in front of goal with just 14 minutes left. His header from ten metres went high over the bar when there was no defender in sight.
Ümit Davala was then denied by Timmy Simons in the final minute of injury time, when his goal-bound shot from a corner was blocked by the impressive defender.
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