With the spotlight on Didier Drogba, it was his new strike partner Burak Yilmaz who grabbed
the headlines with his seventh goal in seven Champions League appearances this season in the 1-1 draw with Schalke on Wednesday.
Yilmaz scored his seventh goal in seven Champions League matches, putting Galatasaray ahead in the 12th minute when he picked up a pass from Selcuk Inan and flicked the ball around a defender to power in a shot past keeper Timo Hildebrand. Equal top scorer in the competition with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Yılmaz's highlight in the group stage came against Manchester United in Istanbul where he scored the winning goal with a header to beat the English Premier League leaders. The 27-year-old Turkey international has played for all the top Turkish clubs during his career but has come into his own this season. Didier Drogba, Galatasaray's new striker and last year's Champions League hero for Chelsea who moved to the Istanbul club last month after a spell in China, linked up well with Burak Yılmaz in attack.
Schalke equalised in the closing seconds of a pulsating first half. The visitors broke quickly, Jefferson Farfan passing across the goal to Jermaine Jones who side-footed past Fernando Muslera, leaving the German side well placed ahead of the second leg. Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, another big-name acquisition by ambitious Galatasaray, was substituted after the first half.
Schalke, in poor form in the Bundesliga, began strongly with Jones cutting in from the left and firing in a shot, forcing a save from Muslera in the first minute. But spurred on by the passionate home fans, Galatasaray soon began to demonstrate their attacking power in what was an open game from the outset.
The visitors had a chance to equalise soon after Yilmaz's opener, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to steer the ball in at the far post. Hamit Altinop nearly doubled the home team's lead in the 18th minute with a powerful shot which ricocheted of the bar after Hildebrand saved an effort from Drogba. Yilmaz had another chance to score in the 38th minute when Drogba put him through on goal but Hildebrand blocked his shot.
The match continued to alternate attacks in the second half and Farfan had a chance to put the visitors ahead in the 55th minute but his effort was blocked by Sabri Sarioglu. In the final stages, Galatasaray pressed harder for an equaliser while Schalke looked to hang on for a draw. Yilmaz had a great chance to put Galatasaray back ahead in the 77th minute but he fired wide of the Schalke goal.The return leg of the final-16 will be played in Germany on March 12.