Lions’ chances in Group C flimsy after Benfica debacle

Galatasaray, aka the Lions, needed victory at all costs in their UEFA Champions League Group C game away against Portuguese side Benfica on Tuesday to boost its chances of qualifying from the group.
But the Lions did exactly the opposite, losing 2-1 to the Portuguese at the Stadium of Light and thus putting their qualifying chances in jeopardy.
To make matters worse, star striker Burak Yilmaz and captain-midfielder Selandcuk inan — two of the best performers on the Galatasaray squad — were booked and therefore will miss the next game against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoilu, nevertheless, remains optimistic. “Now we have two matches ahead of us [against Atletico and Astana] and we want to win both and continue on our journey,” he said in his post-match news conference.
“It’s too early to make [the second-tier] Europa League our target. If there is a glimmer of hope [in the Champions League], we will pursue it to the very end,” he further said.
Brazil central defender Anderson Luis da Silva, or simply Luisao, scored in the 67th minute to give Benfica a 2-1 win and put the Portuguese club two points clear at the top of Group C with two games to play.
Atletico Madrid is second in the group with seven points after being held to a goalless draw at Astana in Kazakhstan. Galatasaray is third with four points, while the Kazakh Champions League debutant remains anchored to the bottom with two points.
Raul Jimenez chipped the ball into the Lions’ penalty area for Luisao to poke it into the net from short range. The Brazilian’s goal put Benfica back into the lead after Germany striker Lukas Podolski had leveled the score in the 58th, canceling out the opening goal by Mexican striker Raul Jonas in the 52nd minute.
Benfica seemingly had the best of the game as the Lions struggled to rein in Jonas and Argentine striker Nicolas Gaitan. But overall, Galatasaray had more possession of the ball as the Istanbul side took over the initiative late in the game.
Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera spectacularly denied Gaitan twice in the last 15 minutes before the Argentine was shown his second yellow card and sent off with five minutes left.
Substitute midfielder Yasin andOztekin squandered a chance to equalize for Galatasaray, missing an open goal during a goalmouth scramble in added time.
“We played as we ought to do [away] against Benfica and displayed good fighting spirit. But the fact of the matter is that we conceded two goals from set-pieces. After the first goal we fought back and equalized. I watched Yasin’s position [in stoppage time] from inside, it was indeed a clear chance. Had he hit the ball, maybe it would have been a goal,” Hamzaoilu stated
“However, the psychology of football works differently. What’s done cannot be undone,” he lamented.


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