DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Jermaine Jones played the hero for Schalke on Wednesday evening, netting a crucial away goal as they clawed their way back for a draw in their first-leg game at Galatasaray.
Galatasaray 1 - 1 FC Schalke 04
Despite allowing an early goal to their Turkish hosts, Schalke managed to salvage a draw in Istanbul on Wednesday, with Jermaine Jones finding the net moments before the halftime break.
The American also picked up a yellow card towards the end of the first half, which will keep him out of the return leg in Gelsenkirchen in three weeks.
The Turkish champions used the occasion to showcase both of their new toys picked up in the transfer window, starting Didier Drogba atop the attack and Wesley Sneijder in the heart of the midfield.
Even with the heavy international artillery on the field, it was a domestic product that initially drew first blood for the hosts after just 12 minutes.
Collecting a pass from Selcuk Inan just outside the area, striker Burak smartly flicked the ball over Joel Matip and worked his way to the penalty spot before firing his shot inside the upper left corner of Timo Hildebrand's net.
An offensive approach from both teams dominated the proceedings, and Jones finally pulled Schalke level just before the break. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar picked out a streaking Jefferson Farfan from the center circle with an inch-perfect pass, at which point the Peruvian international continued his run forward into the right side of the area and squared the ball for Jones, who coolly put away the equalizing goal.
Unfortunately for the American, he had already picked up a yellow card for dissent ten minutes before, and as a result will not have the chance for a repeat of his heroics in the second leg.
The fireworks of the first half were curtailed after the break, with both taking a cautious approach until eventually unleashing in the final minutes.
Drogba nearly set up Burak for a second in the final minutes with a skillful flick towards goal. Then, moments later, Julian Draxler missed his chance to win it when his unmarked shot from the edge of the area was just wide right.
The whistle finally blew to solidify the draw, setting up what will be a pressure-filled return game for both teams.
Schalke will still need to put in a good performance in the March 12 second-leg at the Veltins Arena. An outright victory or scoreless draw will be enough see them through to the quarterfinals.
Beforehand, they return to league action, beginning with a visit from neighbors Düsseldorf on Saturday.
Malaga defender Oguchi Onyewu did not suit up for the team on Tuesday as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 at Benfica thanks to a controversial goal by their Portuguese hosts.