Galatasaray SK succumbed to an unlikely 2-1 defeat at the hands of a disciplined FC Lokomotiv Moskva in the Ali Sami Yen stadium, throwing the second qualification place in UEFA Champions League Group H wide open.
The first half was a decidedly scrappy affair, as both sides struggled to retain possession in a high tempo game. Galatasaray dominated in spells, but could not apply the necessary finish.
The visitors almost took a surprise lead as early as the second minute when Dmitry Loskov opted to shoot from the right-hand side of the box. He struck the ball well, but Faryd Mondragon reacted smartly to palm the ball over.
Arif looked lively
Arif Erdem looked lively as he dropped deep to pick up the ball, but that left Christian isolated, and the Brazilian striker often found himself double-marked. He did have a couple of chances to score, but on both occasions he struck his volleys too early, and they sliced to safety.
Oleg Pachinine was excellent in organising the Lokomotiv backline, and despite some half-hearted penalty appeals from Galatasaray, Sergei Ovchinnikov rarely looked troubled.
The Lokomotiv goalkeeper was only really tested by a vicious inswinging corner from Baljic, but he did well to punch clear, while under pressure from Bülent Korkmaz.
The otherwise quiet James Obiorah did give the Galatasaray defence a scare just before the break, as he showed lightning pace, brushing past Emre Asik and Umit Davala, only for his shot to be held by Mondragon.
Sas adds direction
The second half saw much of the same, as Galatasaray applied pressure put could not convert. They brought on Hasan Sas and João Batista in a bid to change the game. Sas certainly added more direction to the hosts, but goals were not forthcoming.
First, on 59 minutes, Christian toe-poked Hakan Ünsal’s cross straight at Ovchinnikov. Then, six minutes later, Sas picked out Emre Asik, whose diving header went narrowly wide. The game remained scrappy and seemed to petering into nothing when it suddenly sprang to life in the 70th minute.
Jacob Lekcetho made progress down the left, and when his cross was only half-cleared, Loskov seized on to it, burst into the area and rounded Mondragon to score.
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim reacted by throwing on Jorge Felipe, and it seemed to have been a stroke of genius when the Brazilian threaded the ball through to Sas, who blasted the ball into the net on 73 minutes.
Evseev final word
The drama had not finished however, and only two minutes later, Vadim Evseev rose to meet a Loskov corner to head into the goal. Galatasaray threw everything forward in the final 15 minutes, but could not break down a Lokomotiv defence marshalled by the outstanding Pachinine. With FC Barcelona beating Club Brugge KV 1-0, there is still hope for Lokomotiv, while Galatasaray are now in the last-chance saloon.