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UEFA Champions League Group H wrap: Galatasaray squeeze through

Galatasaray booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-1 win at Braga on Wednesday.

The Turkish champions appeared to be heading out of the competition when Mossoro gave their Portuguese opponents a fully deserved lead at Estadio AXA shortly before the half-hour mark.

The situation worsened for Galatasaray when qualification rivals Cluj went a goal up on table-toppers Manchester United, but Burak Yilmaz and substitute Aydin Yilmaz scored second-half goals to see Fatih Terim’s men through in dramatic fashion.

Braga went into the game with nothing to play for but they dominated from the off, with
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Mossoro firing over after being picked out in the area by Alan before Ismaily called Fernando Muslera into action for the first time with a low drive.

The hosts should have taken the lead 15 minutes in, after Mossoro had slipped Eder in on goal, but the forward took too long to get his shot away, allowing Felipe Melo to deflect the ball over the bar.

Just moments later, Galatasaray were indebted to Dany Nounkeu for an equally important block, with the ball having dropped invitingly for Paulo Vinicius.

Braga continued to press as the half wore on and Ismaily, Eder and Alan all tried their luck before Mossoro eventually broke the deadlock 32 minutes in.

The goal finally raised the visitors from their slumber and Selcuk Inan drew a fine finger-tip save from Quim with a 30-yard free kick from a central position but Braga still finished the half the stronger.

The visitors suddenly looked far more potent up front and they drew level just before the hour mark when Burak rose to nod in Emre Colak’s inswinging cross from the left wing.

Ismaily very nearly put the hosts back in front with a venomous effort which flew just wide, but the momentum was now with the visitors and they nicked the victory which saw them progress to the last 16 when Aydin turned in a rebounded effort for the winner.

The result rendered Cluj’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford redundant, with the Romanians finishing on 10 points in Group H alongside Galatasaray but forced into the Europa League by account of a weaker head-to-head record against the Turks.

With top spot in the group secured and the Manchester derby looming, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made wholesale changes to his team for the clash against Paulo Sergio’s side, and the result was a lacklustre display from the Premier League giants.

The Romanians comfortably held their own in a first half which saw chances for both sides but no goals.

Cluj came out from the interval in a determined mode and took the lead in the 56th minute through Luis Alberto.

The Brazilian powered his maiden goal in the competition from 25 yards out, but his heroics were not enough to secure qualification into the knockout rounds.

Wed 5 December, 2012
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