Galatasaray AŞ 1-1 FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones cancelled out Burak Yılmaz's fine strike to earn the visitors a share of the spoils after a meeting high on entertainment.
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FC Schalke 04 put their domestic travails to one side as Jermaine Jones cancelled out Burak Yılmaz's fine strike for Galatasaray AŞ to earn the visitors an away-goals advantage in this last-16 tie.
Burak scored six times in the UEFA Champions League group stage but was barely mentioned in the build-up to this game, the prominent figure of Didier Drogba looming large. He was soon remembered when he fired Galatasaray into the lead on 12 minutes but, after Jones's equaliser just before half-time, the Turkey forward would have appreciated a bit of shade as he squandered two chances to clinch victory.
This was supposed to be Drogba's day, the European return of the man who prompted the inscriber's hand to spell out Chelsea FC's name on the UEFA Champions League trophy nine months ago. Yet he had to stand aside and let Burak back into the spotlight as the 27-year-old rifled in a wonderful opening goal. Drogba had a cameo in the build-up, but Burak had a lot to do as he received Selçuk İnan's pass with his back to goal.
He did it expertly, diverting the ball over Joel Matip with his first touch and turning around the defender to lash into the net. The home team so nearly doubled their advantage soon after, Hamit Altıntop rattling the crossbar after Timo Hildebrand could only parry Drogba's effort. Schalke were architects of their own downfall, both goal and near miss originating from poor passes out from the back.
They were far more constructive going the other way, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar somehow failing to tap in when Benedikt Höwedes' header found him free at the far post following a corner. Semih Kaya inadvertently went closer, grazing the upright as he cut out Jefferson Farfán's dangerous centre and, with Schalke ending an open first half on top, Jones restored parity.
Dany Nounkeu's miscontrol was seized upon by Huntelaar, and in a flash Farfán was streaking clear, attracting the defensive cover before squaring for Jones to power in. The combative midfielder will be missed for the second leg in Gelsenkirchen on 12 March, when he is suspended.
Schalke, so brittle in domestic football in recent weeks, were showing their mettle, and their ascendancy continued after the restart as Farfán and Huntelaar went close. The best home opportunities fell to Burak, both created by Drogba, but he was unable to reclaim the headlines. Schalke will feel they merited their equal billing.