Galatasaray SK and Liverpool FC now have it all to do in UEFA Champions League Group B after a 1-1 draw in the Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul. Emile Heskey's 79th-minute strike cancelled out Radu Niculescu's well-placed header but both sides wasted chances to win an absorbing match.
Galatasaray started brightly with Arif Erdem, back in the starting lineup after being an unused substitute at Anfield last week, particularly impressive. The Turkish international caused constant problems for the Liverpool defence and looked keen to prove a point to coach Mircea Lucescu. The hosts were ravaged by injuries and suspensions but coped with mounting Liverpool pressure throughout an exciting first half.
Andres Fleurquin, Galatasaray's Uruguayan midfield player, was drafted into the defence alongside the impressive Bülent Korkmaz and the duo kept Michael Owen and Heskey at bay for long periods. Arif brought the best out of Chris Kirkland after just 12 minutes, as his 20-metre strike was turned around the post, before John Arne Riise saw his goalbound header scrambled off the line by goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
Mondragon the nemesis
Mondragon proved to be Liverpool's nemesis once more, following his superb display at Anfield six days ago. The Colombian international, on loan from French club FC Metz, denied Vladimír Šmicer in the 21st minute as he somehow blocked the Czech international's clever flick. He then frustrated Danny Murphy, replacing the injured Stephen Gerrard in the centre of midfield, from 25 metres and did enough to make Owen shoot wide on the half-time whistle.
Visitors in charge
Liverpool upped the tempo in the second period and took control of the game. The hosts seemed content to sit back and hit their opponents on the break, ironically a tactic favoured by Liverpool throughout the competition so far. Owen almost made the breakthrough in the opening seconds of the half but his angled drive was blocked by the feet of Mondragon. Riise then wasted a glorious chance to put Liverpool ahead but sent his 15-metre shot into the body of Mondragon after Dietmar Hamann had threaded the ball behind the Galatasaray defence.
Niculescu on target
With 20 minutes remaining and the match seemingly heading for a stalemate, Galatasaray took the lead through Niculescu. The Romanian striker, making his first start in the Champions League following his recent move from FC Steaua Bucuresti, got in front of Sami Hyypiä to head Gustavo Victoria's low cross past a helpless Kirkland.
Šmicer immediately wasted the chance to level the scores as he somehow sent a volley wide of the target from six metres with the goal at his mercy. However, Liverpool drew level with eleven minutes remaining, as Heskey silenced a partisan crowd with a powerful drive. Riise's long throw bounced inside the Galatasaray area and substitute Jari Litmanen fed Heskey who smashed his shot into the roof of Mondragon's net. Berkant Göktan was denied by a sprawling Kirkland save and Jamie Carragher blocked a goalbound effort from Sébastien Pérez as the hosts pushed for a late winner but the spoils were destined to be shared.