Cihan Haspolatli’s early strike earned Galatasaray SK their first points of their UEFA Champions League Group D campaign at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, but the hero of the night for the home side was their goalkeeper Faryd Móndragon whose brilliance held Olympiacos CFP at bay.
Móndragon in command
The Colombian goalkeeper made a string of crucial saves in each half to keep Olympiacos rooted to the bottom of the group, after a match they dominated for large spells without ever finding the final touch to earn the point their efforts deserved.
Both sides came into the match looking for their first points of the campaign and it was Galatasaray who started the faster. After only four minutes Ergün Penbe signalled the home side's attacking intent when he shot narrowly over, then on eight minutes Hakan Sükür, playing despite breaking his nose during his side's victory over Rizespor at the weekend, thudded a header on to the post off Ergün's pinpoint cross from the left.
Galatasaray were in control and the goal they needed to make their possession count duly arrived a minute later when Arif Erdem's delightful pass from midfield sent Cihan, another pre-game injury worry, through on goal on the right. Juraj Bucek, preferred in the Olympiakos goal to Theofanis Katergiannakis, came charging off his line, but Cihan chipped nonchalantly into the far corner to put Galatasaray in front.
Olympiacos looked to hit back and on 15 minutes the speedy Nery Alberto Castillo saw his shot tipped to safety by the sprawling Móndragon, but shortly afterwards, Galatasaray should have doubled their advantage. On the break, Arif squared the ball to put Hakan clear on goal, but the Turkish international stumbled, allowing Bucek to collect and clear the danger.
Having survived that scare, Olympiacos grew in confidence and the fact that Galatasaray made it to the break with their lead intact was down to the brilliance of Móndragon. The Colombian keeper was almost caught out by Castillo on 27 minutes as he dithered over a clearance, but their was no doubting his agility moments later when he dived low to his right to keep out Predrag Djordjevic's dipping free-kick at the far post. A minute later he was at it again, stretching full-length to turn away Ieroklis Stoltidis's dipping drive.
Five minutes after the break, the Colombian saved again, this time kicking away Castillo's shot after the Uruguayan striker had been sent clear by Stylianos Venetidis's exquisite chip into the box from near the halfway line. At the other end, Hakan missed another chance to make the game safe on 56 minutes when he turned the ball wide at the near post after Arif's low cross had drawn Bucek out of position.
Djordjevic was by now running the midfield for the visiting side and his cross from the left nearly drew the equaliser on 64 minutes, but Giovanni, unmarked five metres from goal, sent his powerful header just wide. The Brazilian's frustrations were evident, as were those of Djordevic moments later when he brushed past João Batista on the edge of the area only to send his shot over the bar.
Galatasaray hold on
In the final minute the substitute Giorgios Georgiadis saw another header sail over and the Greek side were beaten – for the third time in as many Group D matches. If there is any consolation for coach Oleh Protasov, it is that his side have an immediate chance for revenge when they host Galatasaray on Matchday 4 in two weeks’ time.