Sport Football Chelsea in pole position, Real Madrid crush Schalke

Chelsea in pole position, Real Madrid crush Schalke

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Chelsea have the upper hand in their Champions League last-16 tie with Galatasaray after coming away from a testing environment in Istanbul with a 1-1 first-leg draw.

The visitors led on Wednesday at half-time thanks to an early goal from Fernando Torres, but Galatasaray improved in the second half and restored parity after the hour mark when Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou found the net.

A draw was a fair reflection of the way the game went, but Chelsea will now hope to finish the job in the return at Stamford Bridge on March 18.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho opted to select Torres in attack ahead of Samuel Eto’o in one of three changes to the team that beat Everton at the weekend, with Ramires and Andre Schuerrle also coming in.

It proved to be an excellent decision as it was Torres who finished off a clinical breakaway to put the Blues in front with just nine minutes played, giving Chelsea the lead they deserved as their hosts paid for a poor start.

Former Arsenal man Emmanuel Eboue lost possession high up the field, and Chelsea pounced down the left flank, Schuerrle releasing Cesar Azpilicueta, who advanced into the box and drew goalkeeper Fernando Muslera before squaring for his fellow Spaniard to apply an easy finish.

It was a sixth goal in his last five Champions League starts for Torres, and it briefly silenced the boisterous Turkish fans inside the impressive Turk Telecom Arena.

Chelsea could possibly have put the tie to bed in the minutes that followed, with Galatasaray utterly disorganised and poor in possession, but the score stayed as it was until the break.

A lively Torres almost made it 2-0 for Chelsea in the 52nd minute, bursting through the middle of the home back line before seeing his shot turned behind for a corner by Muslera.

However, Galatasaray finally started to grow into the contest in the second half, the raucous crowd receiving a lift when Gary Cahill nearly turned the ball into his own net after intercepting a Burak Yilmaz pass intended for Drogba.

The Ivorian striker almost created an equaliser against his old club in the 62nd minute, heading down a left-wing cross for Selcuk Inan, but the home captain somehow contrived to stab the ball against the post from a yard out.

It didn’t matter, as three minutes later the hosts were back on level terms when Chedjou netted.

Galatasaray finished strongly, although the closest they came to winning the game was from a fierce Telles shot that Cech tipped over.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid turned in a clinical away performance to thrash Schalke 6-1 and stand on the brink of the quarter-finals.

French international Karim Benzema, Welshman Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all scored twice on Wednesday in a one-sided victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s men at the Veltins Arena.

Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar picked up a last minute consolation goal for the Bundesliga outfit.

The return leg of their last-16 tie now appears to be a formality for the nine-time champions at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 18.