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Rijkaard factor lifts Galatasaray

Striker Harry Kewell paid tribute to boss Frank Rijkaard after Galatasaray AŞ reached the knockout phase with two games to spare after another emphatic win over FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti.

Harry Kewell scores Galatasaray's opener against Dinamo on Thursday
Harry Kewell scores Galatasaray's opener against Dinamo on Thursday ©Getty Images

Harry Kewell paid tribute to coach Frank Rijkaard after Galatasaray AŞ produced a second emphatic victory over FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti to seal their advance to the UEFA Europa League last 32 with two games to spare.

Fine opener
The Australian winger scored the first of the Istanbul club's three goals midway through the first half on what proved to be another dispiriting night for Dinamo, whose own qualifying prospects virtually disappeared in Bucharest. It was an eye-catching effort as Kewell first controlled the ball with the back of his left boot before taking another touch and arrowing a right-foot drive into the back of the net.

Positive criticism
Former Liverpool FC player Kewell is clearly enjoying his second season with Galatasaray. "It's good to play with good players," said the 31-year-old. "They are very hard-working and want to improve. We've got a great manager now and the players are learning a lot so only good things are going to come from this team." Kewell believes Rijkaard is helping him improve individually, too. "He's given me confidence. You always have to prove yourself and he keeps you on your toes. If you are slacking he will let you know, but he tells you in a nice way."

Mission accomplished
When Shabani Nonda rose to put away a header two minutes after Kewell's opener he was answering Rijkaard's demands to the letter. "The coach told us to start the second half two goals up and that's what happened," said the Congolese striker. "We knew how to manage the game at 2-0 and we controlled it after that. The first goal was important because it strengthened us and weakened them." Mehmet Topal's spectacular second-half effort set seal on another three-goal victory over Dinamo and qualification, but there is still plenty to play for in the remaining group fixtures. "It's important to finish first in order to avoid a team who have come from the Champions League and that will be our aim now," said Nonda.