forwards Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate a goal against Schalke in the Champions League, 26 February. Reuters
Chelsea picked up what could prove to be a vital away goal in a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray in the first leg of the Champions League last 16, as Real Madrid put their woeful record in Germany well behind them with a 6-1 thumping of Schalke.
With the focus primarily on Didier Drogba as the Chelsea legend stepped up to play against his former club for the first time, it was the away side that started much better in an intimidating Turk Terlekom Arena in Istanbul.
Willian nearly made full use of Fernando Muslera's mistake early on, before the Blues jumped into the lead on nine minutes. Andre Schurrle played through Cesar Azpilicueta down the Chelsea left, with the fullback then cutting the ball back to Fernando Torres, who made no mistake in slotting home.
Drogba could have scored what would have been an emotional goal soon after, but a poor touch from the Ivorian allowed Petr Cech to snuff out the chance.
Chelsea were the better side in the opening exchanges, with Willian and Frank Lampard coming close as Galatasaray failed to kick into gear from the off.
However, the home side were left bemused at a disallowed goal later in the first half when Burak Yilmaz struck home from a tight angle. The referee, though, pulled the play back due to there being two balls on the pitch. Chelsea skipper John Terry kept had the ball with him after conceding a throw-in, only releasing it onto the playing pitch as Galatasaray took a quick throw-in - owing to the multiple balls process, unlike in the English Premier League -- which eventually saw the ball end up in the back of the net.
Terry was shown a yellow for the incident, but Galatasaray and Roberto Mancini would have been left seething at an equalising goal gone astray.
Galatasaray, however, started the second half much brighter, even if Torres could have put Chelsea 2-0 ahead with only Muslera's reflexes keeping it a one-goal game.
Gary Cahill nearly scored an own goal, with Selcuk Inan striking the woodwork from close range off a Drogba knockdown. The goal, though, would come in the 64th minute, with Aurelien Chedjou losing Terry, as Branislav Ivanovic wrestled his former teammate Drogba, to volley into the back of the net.
Galatsaray could have easily had another goal in the closing stages, but Chelsea kept it at 1-1 and go into the second leg at Stamford Bridge as slight favourites.
In Gelsenkirchen, Schalke suffered their biggest defeat in Europe, with a rampant Real turning on the style courtesy braces from Cristiano Ronaldo, who went back to the top of the scoring charts in this season's Champions League, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Benzema got things rolling in the 13th minute, before Bale and Ronaldo scored two wonderful solo goals. Former Real striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a late consolation goal, after Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema had grabbed one more each, but it mattered little as Real, courtesy only their second win in 26 visits to Germany, as good as sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
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