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Benfica scalp keeps Galatasaray climbing

SL Benfica 0-2 Galatasaray AŞ
Second-half strikes from Emre Aşık and Ümit Karan secured victory for the Istanbul club and helped open up a four-point lead at the top of Group B.

Ümit Karan celebrates Galatasaray's second goal
Ümit Karan celebrates Galatasaray's second goal ©Getty Images

Second-half strikes from Emre Aşık and Ümit Karan secured victory for Galatasaray AŞ against SL Benfica and opened up a commanding four-point lead at the top of UEFA Cup Group B.

Sole victors
Emre's close-range finish six minutes after the break was added to by Ümit midway through the half as the Istanbul club ensured their first visit to Portugal for a competitive fixture was a positive one. Michael Skibbe's team, who had defeated Olympiacos CFP 1-0 on Matchday 1, are the only side in the section to have recorded a victory and look firm favourites to win the group.

Speculative efforts
The absence of the injured Harry Kewell was felt early on as the visitors struggled to gain a foothold or create anything of note in Lisbon. A creative spark was also missing from Benfica's play as speculative shots became a feature of the first period. Nuno Gomes was first to try his luck after five minutes but his effort went wide, while David Suazo and José Antonio Reyes fared little better from free-kicks.

Second-half response
Kostas Katsouranis's 19th-minute strike which flew wide of the post was a rare attempt from inside the area, while Reyes's radar continued to be wayward as the former Spain forward twice fired wide and sent one shot over the crossbar. Galatasaray, who had laboured in attack during the opening 45 minutes, clicked into the gear after the restart and soon took a surprise lead. Seconds after Milan Baroš had elicited a fine stop from Quim, Emre converted Lincoln's cross from close range.

Arda assist
Further long-distance shooting was symptomatic of the Eagles' desperation to draw level, with substitute Óscar Cardozo squandering their best opportunity when he blasted a free-kick wide. At the other end, Ümit enjoyed greater success, first testing Quim just past the hour, before he then doubled Galatasaray's advantage by latching on to Arda Turan's cross from the left and finishing neatly.