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By Eugene Ravdin at the Skonto stadium
Substitute Mehmet Yilmaz's late equaliser for Trabzonspor gave them a valuable 1-1 draw at Skonto FC in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round encounter.
Gatis Kalninš seemed to have given the Latvian champions victory with a goal midway through the second half, but three minutes from time Yilmaz ensured this evenly-matched tie would be level going into next Wednesday's second leg.
That Skonto could think of victory seemed unlikely in the first half, when they did not manage a shot on goal. Adem Koçak had the Turkish side's first chance on 12 minutes, but shot wide. Visiting captain Fatih Tekke followed suit six minutes later and just after the half-hour Skonto goalkeeper Andrejs Piedels had to be alert to deny Adem Koçak after his run and low shot.
Long distance efforts from Mihails Miholaps and Mihails Zemlinskis were the best Skonto could muster, but they had held firm at the back and after the break the home side began to gain momentum. Zurab Menteshashvili's long-range shap-shot was just wide, while five minutes later Miholaps's classy pass almost set up young Igors Semjonovs, but the teenager could not apply the right touch.
Home side ahead
However, on 68 minutes Skonto were celebrating a goal. Zemlinskis crossed from a free-kick and Kristaps Blanks and Aaron Nguimbat won challenges against their markers to get the ball to Kalninš, who made no mistake from close range. The goal spurred on Trabzonspor, and the introduction of substitutes Yilmaz and Ibrahima Yattara proved a masterstroke.
Piedels pulled off saves from Tekke and Yattara, but three minutes from time was beaten. Yattara breezed down the right wing past Olegs Blagonadezdins and crossed into the box for Yilmaz to volley into the top corner.
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