Burak Yilmaz scored late into the second half to salvage a 1-1 draw for Galatasaray against 10-man CFR Cluj in their Champions League group H match at the Türk Telekom Arena.
CFR Cluj took the lead after 19 minutes as Camora’s dangerous cross from the left saw the ball take a deflection off the unfortunate Dany Nounkeu before nestling in the back of the net.
Matias Aguirregaray was then sent off for two silly yellow cards before Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo saw his penalty saved.
The hosts controlled the entire second half in what were dire conditions but had to wait until late on to snatch an equaliser as substitute Yilmaz rose highest to powerfully head home Nordin Amrabat’s dangerous cross.
The rain had been pouring for at least an hour before kick-off and did not stop for the duration of the game which made for near-unplayable conditions and often a quite unattractive game of football.
Despite that, it was the Romanian champions that seemed to take the initiative and put Galatasaray under some early pressure.
Rafael Bastos was guilty of some sloppy finishing early on as the dangerous Camora beat his man to pull the ball back to the edge of the area. Bastos should have at least made Fernando Muslera work in the Galatasaray net but skewed his shot well wide.
The Cluj striker was again in the thick of the action just moments later as he neatly chested the ball down in the home side’s box before swivelling and firing an effort narrowly wide of the goal.
Semih Kaya then failed to clear Cadu’s hopeful ball into the box. Nicolas Godemeche was the first to the loose ball and played it out wide to Camora who skipped past Emmanuel Eboue before crossing.
Pantelis Kapetanos gambled to the near post and stuck out his right leg, beating defender Dany Nounkeu to the ball. The Cluj front-man made slight contact with the ball as it ricocheted off the defender into the back of the net.
Aguirregaray, who did very little during his 28 minutes on the pitch, was given his first yellow for a daft exchange with Amrabat before being sent off for stupidly hauling Albert Riera to the floor on the left flank.
The Romanian outfit then looked up against it, especially after conceding a penalty with just 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Eboue’s lofted ball into the penalty area was contested by Johann Elmander and Laszlo Sepsi with the latter handling the ball in somewhat unfortunate circumstances. Italian referee Paolo Tagliavento was quick to point to the spot and signalled a penalty.
Melo stepped up to take the spot kick and appeared to wait for the goalkeeper to move, which he did not , and sent it rather tamely into the arms of the custodian who was able to beat it to safety.
There was a chance that the match may have been abandoned at half-time due to the torrential downpour but it was deemed safe to play on.
The second half was a complete contrast to the first as Galatasaray really made the most of their numerical advantage and rarely allowed Cluj out of their own half.
The dominant Selcuk Inan was the first to have an effort on goal but could only find the hands of Mario Felgueiras from 25 yards.
Substitute Yilmaz should have scored earlier than he did as he met Umut Bulut’s inviting cross but was unable to steer the effort on goal.
Bulut then had a chance to get his side level with a neat chest down followed by a smart volley but the ball fizzed just wide of the stationary Felgueiras’s goal.
Melo nudged a volleyed-effort narrowly wide on 70 minutes before Yilmaz snatched his side their first point of the campaign.
Amrabat pulled away from his covering defender deep on the left to receive the ball. The wide-man then shimmied one way and the other which allowed him to whip in a devilish ball. Felgueiras attempted to claim the ball but was beaten to it by the towering Turk who finished with aplomb.
Galatasaray continued to bang on the door during the closing minutes but Cluj, who defended so valiantly throughout the second half, held out for a deserved point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Selcuk Inan - Galatasaray: On a night when it was hard to select a man of the match because of the horrendous conitions, Selcuk was the pick of the bunch due to his tireless work in the centre of the pitch. He was at the heart of everything the home side created during their dominant second half.
GALATASARAY: Muslera 6, Nounkeu 5, Semih Kaya 6, Eboué 6, Hamit Altintop 6, Selçuk Inan 8, Felipe Melo 6, Riera 6, Amrabat 7, Elmander 6, Umut Bulut 5, SUBS: Sarioglu 6, Yilmaz 5, Colak 6
CLUJ: Felgueiras 7, Ivo Pinto 7, Sepsi 6, Piccolo 7, Cadú 7, Camora 6, Rafael Bastos 7, Godemèche 6, Luís Alberto 6, Aguirregaray 2, Kapetanos 7 SUBS: Rada 5 Muresan 5, Nicoara 5