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Beşiktaş' 'miracle of Istanbul' denies Benfica

Beşiktaş revived memories of the 2005 final, coming from three down at half-time to draw 3-3 with Benfica and keep both sides in Group B qualifying contention.

Matchday 5 highlights: Beşiktaş 3-3 Benfica featuring Tosun stunner
Matchday 5 highlights: Beşiktaş 3-3 Benfica featuring Tosun stunner

Beşiktaş produced a stunning UEFA Champions League comeback to deny Benfica a first win on Turkish soil, the hosts recovering from 3-0 down at half-time to earn a Group B draw that keeps both teams' last-16 hopes intact.

Rui Vitória's side started confidently and appeared to be cruising towards the knockout stage after a Gonçalo Guedes opener was followed by Nélson Semedo's stunner. Ljubomir Fejsa added a third shortly after the half-hour.

Hitherto unbeaten at their recently inaugurated Beşiktaş Park, Şenol Güneş's men maintained their belief and reduced the arrears after the restart through Cenk Tosun's scissor-kick. Victor Nilsson Lindelöf's handball allowed Ricardo Quaresma to set up a frantic finale, the Portuguese converting from the penalty spot. Currently on loan from Porto, Vincent Aboubakar then netted the unlikeliest of equalisers in the 89th minute, sending the home supporters into ecstasy.

Key player: Cenk Tosun (Beşiktaş)
Beşiktaş were all at sea until Cenk's half-time introduction changed the complexion of this pulsating contest. The manner in which the 25-year-old forward connected with Andreas Beck's super centre to cut the deficit, lifted not only his team-mates but the entire home crowd. The fans subsequently roared their side to an unlikely result.

Cenk Tosun on Beşiktaş' 'incredible' comeback
Cenk Tosun on Beşiktaş' 'incredible' comeback

One-half wonders
The Beşiktaş supporters had begun the evening with a one-minute 'silent cheer' as a no-to-racism gesture – but their team remained silent until the interval. Never mind a slow start, no side can afford to lie low for 45 minutes of a do-or-die UEFA Champions League game. Admittedly Beşiktaş returned stronger after the break, but what might have been had they set about the first half as they did the second.

Benfica slump
Rui Vitória will have difficulty explaining a result that seemed highly improbable at half-time. His team having exuded confidence in the opening 45, the tactician looked on in horror as Benfica fell apart in the face of a spirited Beşiktaş fightback that could have long-term repercussions for the Eagles – who play Napoli on matchday six.

Reporters' views

Çetin Cem Yılmaz, Beşiktaş (@UEFAcomCetinCY)
This was two halves of madness. First, Benfica caught Beşiktaş asleep, scored some stunning goals and gave the hosts no breathing space whatsoever. Then, at the recess, the Beşiktaş fans offered encouragement to their players and the next 45 were a different story entirely. Substitute Tosun was clinical, Gökhan İnler solid in midfield and his passing immaculate – and somehow Beşiktaş continue unbeaten, their campaign still alive.

Paul Bryan, Benfica (@UEFAcomPaulB)
The UEFA Champions League is capable of producing incredible drama and this encounter – played out amid a spectacular atmosphere at the Beşiktaş Park – will go down in tournament history as a classic. Few would have given the hosts the slightest chance at the interval, such was Benfica's dominance, yet the Black Eagles' remarkable rally sets up an intriguing climax to Group B.

©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images