Spot kick saga at the Emirates as Flipe Melo's penalty gives Galatasaray a 1-0 win over Porto
By Oliver Wilson
Galatasaray new signing Felipe Melo struck the only goal of a dismal game to kick of the 2013 Emirates Cup to secure three points for his side against FC Porto.
The midfielders second half penalty was enough to earn the Turkish club three points as Porto missed two spot kicks of their own in a game marred with poor finishing.
The Emirates stadium was bathed in sunshine for the two Mediterranean side’s encounter in the opening match of this years Emirates Cup and, after the Audi cup in Germany produced such thrilling football, many were optimistic that the London based pre-season tournament would be able to match it’s German counterpart.
The handful of fans scattered across the 60,000 seater stadium, however, were treated to an opening 45 minutes of placid, heavy footed football. The most they had to cheer about was the return of Emmanuel Eboue to the club he spent seven seasons with, the Ivorian defender receiving a cheer and round of applause every time he received possession.
While Eboue received the warm embrace of his former clubs fans, DidierDrogba was greeted to a mixed reception upon his return to the Emirates, the former Chelsea man meeting a wall of jeers and cheers as the crowd recalled his past battles against their club from his Chelsea days, while also hoping the magic he has produced on so many occasions would return to entertain them for the afternoon.
Galatasaray were slow out of the gate and it was the Portuguese side that made the early running. Martinez, whose performance will have been watch closely by Napoli manager Rafa Benitez, was the first to find the target but his near post strike was comfortably dealt with by Fernando Muslera in the Turkish side’s goal. Martinez was gifted a golden opportunity to open the scoring after 18 minutes after Silvestre Varela was bundled over inside the 18-yard-box. The striker’s effort from the penalty spot, however, was shoddy and Muslera was gifted a comfortable save to his left to keep his side on level terms.
Captain Lucho Gonzalez, in his new attacking role in the Porto midfield, controlled his side’s advances forward but neither Andre Castro nor Martinez could convert the efforts presented to them.
Galatasaray were given time to grow into the game without really testing the opposition’s defence. Drogba lashed an effort from distance that Fabiano was able to palm away for a corner while Selcuk Inan ripped an effort that sailed safely over Fabiano’s crossbar.
The momentum had shifted and Galatasaray carried it into the second half with Drogba leading the show. His first effort of the second period was a miscued touch onto a Wesley Sneijder cross that flicked towards the bottom corner of the net. Once again, however, Fabiano was a match to the shot, much to the delight of the pocket of Porto fans behind the goal.
Sneijder then tried his luck from the edge of the box, firing just wide, before Fabiano produced a wonderful save to deny Drogba from 25-yards.
Fabiano did his best to deny Drogba and co the opening goal and his exerts provided a heart-in-mouth moment for both his manager, Paolo Fonseca, and the Turkish clubs coach Fatih Terim, as the Ivorian striker and the keeper clattered into each other as they rushed onto a high, bouncing long ball. Both players hit the ground hard after the collision but, after a few minutes of treatment, the pair were able to resume play, much to the delight of all those in attendance.
A break through was inevitable for the Turkish side as Porto faded into almost non-existence, and when Eboue was tripped inside the penalty area, the honours were given to the Juventus midfielder, Melo, who coolly finished from the spot to finally break the deadlock.
Porto flickered with spurts of life but rarely troubled in the final third as the game closed out, until Eliaquim Mangala was tripped by Aurelien Chedjou, gifting Lucho a chance to salvage a point for his side. Once again, however, the pressure of the penalty proved all too much for the midfielder as he stroked his effort wide of the target, much to the relief of Muslera.
A last header for Martinez in the final seconds of regular time was all Porto could muster in terms of a fight back and as the final whistle rang out, it was the Turkish sections of the fans celebrating a scrappy three points in the opening game of the Emirates Cup