Deployed as an emergency substitute after injury forced team-mate Mehmet Batdal off before the break, a half-fit Milan Baroš saved Galatasaray AŞ from UEFA Europa League disaster, scoring twice to earn a 2-2 home draw with FC Karpaty Lviv.
Galatasaray already trailed to Serhiy Kuznetsov's 34th-minute strike when the 28-year-old Baroš came off the bench, and the Czech international could do nothing to prevent Sergei Zenjov doubling the visitors' lead before half-time. However, with the initiative changing hands after the restart, Baroš became the hero of the play-off first leg in Istanbul, exploiting defensive lapses to score in the 59th and 86th minutes.
Karpaty midfielder Samson Godwin was quick to praise the mercurial substitute, who joined Galatasaray in 2008 after spells with Liverpool FC, Aston Villa FC and Olympique Lyonnais. "Baroš completely changed Galatasaray's tempo," he said. "He's a very good player. We shouldn't have sat back in the second half. We should have controlled the game, because we had very good players against us."
Karpaty coach Oleg Kononov said it had been a strange game. "It was an odd one for Galatasaray," he said. "In the previous round they went 2-0 up but ended up drawing 2-2. This time the situation was reversed. We will have to be better prepared for the second leg because we know how good they are. We went into the second half looking to maintain our advantage and ended up sitting back."
Two away goals still leaves the advantage with the Ukrainian side, but Galatasaray boss Frank Rijkaard knows things could have been much worse. "Karpaty did a good job," he said. "My players were demolished when they went 2-0 behind. For the second half I told them to be more positive both in defence and attack. They pressed the opposition and we found two goals." The play-off concludes in Lviv next Thursday.
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