Molde’s Dominance Fails To Pay Off As Galatasaray Win At The Death
In the final Qualifying Round ahead of this season’s Champions League, Turkish Champions Galatasaray take a slim one-goal lead back to Rams Park ahead of the second leg after beating Norwegian champions Molde 3-2 in Norway.
Despite being labelled as the underdogs, Molde certainly didn’t play like them and traded blows with the Turkish giants with Galatasaray winning the game at the death.
Molde started as they meant to go on with captain Magnus Wolff Eikrem seeing an early lobbed attempt land on the top of the net.
Their attacking approach was followed up by a chance from Emil Breivik which was sniffed out by Angelino and resulted in a corner. From the set-piece taken by Breivik, Martin Ellingsen guided a wonderful header to the far corner, putting Molde 1–0 up inside 10 minutes.
Molde stifled Galatasaray for the majority of the early stages of the game, limiting them to playing long ball passes.
As the superior quality of the Turkish outfit would suggest, it only took a few moments of quality to get their goals.
In the 25th minute, Sergio Oliveira’s free-kick deflected off of Ellingsen’s head, wrong-footing Jacob Karlstrom and finding the back of the net.
Just four minutes later, a moment of absolute class from Mauro Icardi in front of the travelling fans put them ahead. Yunus Akgün’s ball into the box found the Argentine, who volleyed home into the roof of the net as it came over his right shoulder.
Galatasaray started to find their feet, stretching the pitch out to create space. Sacha Boey, Oliveira and Dries Mertens were instrumental in this on the right. The latter almost scored in the 40th minute with his effort just shaving the post after Icardi’s back-heeled lay-off.
Three minutes later, Akgün cut inside and found the bottom corner of the net, however, the goal was disallowed due to a Mertens foul on Martin Bjornbak in the build-up.
Molde regained some momentum just before the interval but went into half-time break undeservedly 2-1 behind.
The second-half began in nervy fashion for the hosts with an early penalty shout from Galatasaray following a potential handball. After a VAR check, it was decided that Akgün kicked Eirik Haugen’s arm into the ball and Molde were awarded a free-kick. Despite this, a flurry of Molde attacks followed throughout the half.
Molde’s first chance of note in the second period came when Eikrem picked out Breivik on the edge of the box with great vision. However, Breivik’s shot sailed far over.
Similarly, Ola Brynhildsen had a chance one-on-one against Fernando Muslera after being played in behind but smashed his shot over.
Just a minute later, Erling Knudtzon was free on the right and able to stand a ball up to the back post. Kristoffer Haugen got on the end of it, volleying the ball into the artificial turf and finding the back of the net and levelling the game up at 2-2.
Eikrem remained influential in his time on the pitch. The captain had chances for himself in front of goal and also through attempted cutbacks, but they ultimately came to nothing. He was replaced by Eric Kitolano in the 78th minute, who missed a chance at the back post not long after following a superb Brynhildsen delivery.
Although the closing stages were largely played out as though both teams were looking for a draw, Galatasaray were still alive. In the 93rd minute, Icardi bypassed Bjornbak after a flick-on and squared it across the box to Fredrik Midstjo. The former Rosenborg man arrived to haunt Molde and scored the winner at the death.
Going into the Second Leg
The Norwegians will go into the second leg in Turkey feeling hard done by as they were unable to turn their dominance into victory. There will still be plenty of positives for Erling Moe, who will look to galvanise the team beforehand as his team are certainly not out yet.
On the other hand, Galatasaray will certainly feel lucky to take a win away from Norway. They were mostly ineffective at handling Molde and their game management was not particularly great.
Ultimately, they were bailed out by individual quality and moments which may not have gone in their favour on another day. With the likely introductions of new signings Hakim Ziyech and Wilfied Zaha by next week, they will be favourites once again.
Molde: Karlstrom; Haugan; Bjornbak; Ellingsen; Knudtzon; Eriksen; Mannsverk; Breivik; Haugen; Brynhildsen; Eikrem (C).
Galatasaray: Muslera (C); Boey; Nelsson; Bardakcl; Angelino; Oliveira; Kutlu; Yunus; Mertens; Akturkoglu; Icardi.