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Tie finely poised as Galatasaray resist Lazio

Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio
Sabri Sarıoğlu and Sergej Milinković-Savić traded early first-leg goals but the spoils were ultimately shared in Istanbul.

Highlights: Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio
Highlights: Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio
  • Sabri Sarıoğlu's first European goal in seven years puts hosts ahead
  • Sergej Milinković-Savić levels things up within nine minutes
  • Lazio push for winner but fail to beat Fernando Muslera again
  • Second leg takes place next week ahead of Friday's round of 16 draw

There is everything to play for at the Stadio Olimpico next week after Galatasaray and Lazio played out a draw in Istanbul with both goals arriving in a thrilling opening.

Sabri Sarıoğlu's first European goal in seven years for Galatasaray was quickly cancelled out by Sergej Milinković-Savić, meaning the visitors will return home marginally the happier side, their away goal giving them the slight edge in the bid to make the UEFA Europa League round of 16.

Lazio probed from the off but it was Galatasaray who struck with their first proper attack 12 minutes in. A well-executed team effort saw captain Selçuk İnan send in one of his trademark balls from deep; Ryan Donk controlled in the box and laid on for Sabri to simply tap into the net. It was a first European goal since 2009 for the No55, who was uncharacteristically used as a winger as opposed to his natural right-back position.

The Italian side, however, were unfazed by the early goal and quickly responded. Skipper Lucas Biglia took a free-kick from the left of the area and the 20-year-old Milinković-Savić rose highest to nod past Fernando Muslera, who could do nothing to prevent his old club getting on the scoresheet.

The Uruguay keeper had to be at his best half a dozen times over the remainder of this round of 32 first leg, as the Biancocelesti had the better of a game which became more subdued as it unfolded following the intense opening. Galatasaray had to wait until the 89th minute for their next best chance when an Umut Bulut diving header just zipped off the bar.

Denizli caution fails to pay off
Going into the match Galatasaray had managed only one clean sheet in their last 25 European outings, and coach Mustafa Denizli looked to address the issue by fielding an outfield lineup containing seven defenders by trade. It did not prove enough to keep out Lazio, but there was at least the consolation that two of them – Donk and Sabri – combined for the opener.

Set-piece woes
Galatasaray's set-piece defending proved troublesome during their UEFA Champions League campaign, with Atlético and Benfica both taking advantage. Not much seems to have improved in the intervening two months as Biglia's free-kick found Milinković-Savić easily and with that came the end of Galatasaray's advantage.

No German duel
On paper, the game had an extra dimension with two German aces in Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose set to go head to head. However, Klose did not come on until the 69th minute while Podolski still appeared rusty after a month-long injury. The long-awaited clash did not live up to the hype.