ISTANBUL (Reuters) – 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.
He showed his class early the last-16 first-leg match when he picked up a pass from Selcuk Inan with a deft flick past a defender before powering in a shot past Schalke keeper Timo Hildebrand to put Galatasaray ahead.
Equal top scorer in the competition with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Yilmaz has this season repeatedly repaid the support he has received from Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim.
"I’m pleased for Burak Yilmaz, with every day he is trying to improve and overcome his weaknesses and I’m pleased with that," Terim told reporters.
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.
His 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.
"There was only one player on the pitch using their imagination and challenging the opposition and that was Burak," said Ilhan Soyler, a sports writer at Hurriyet newspaper.
"He needed to be fed with long balls, but that didn’t happen".
Yilmaz had a couple more chances to seal victory for Galatasaray but those efforts went astray, putting the pressure on for him to perform again in the second leg against Schalke.
(Writing by Daren Butler, editing by Ed Osmond)
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