ISTANBUL, September 24, 2020 — Split’s Hajduk played aggressively and combatively, but still failed to beat Galatasaray, which won 2-0 in Istanbul in the 3rd qualifying round for the Europa League. That result did not change until the very end of the match, but then the Turkish players ‘stepped it up’ and scored goals with Belhanda at the 77-minute mark and Babel at minute 86.
Galatasaray entered the match as a clear favorite, given their reputation and the players they have, but that did not materialize on the field. Hajduk played courageously. Along with their energy, and responsible and concentrated defense, they did not give the Turkish club much space for error. The Split team played beyond their capacity, while the Turkish team failed expectations, leading to a close and uncertain match. Hajduk coach Hari Vukas put his players in solid formation. Their objective was to defend the goal and intercept passes in order to escape disadvantage as quickly as possible. And, that plan worked out well.
The Turkish players made several mistakes in building an attack. However, Hajduk’s players got entangled in front of the goal and missed several opportunities. Galatasaray’s coach Fatih Terim could not have been very happy with his men either. Although the most famous players like Falcao, Turan and Belhanda stayed on the bench, he certainly expected that it would be easier to beat the fifth-placed Croatian team from last season.
Hajduk Held Their Own Against Galatasaray, Faltered in the End
However, as the end of the match approached, Hajduk’s players were less able to follow the pace. The Turkish team did not come well-prepared either. Nevertheless, Galatasaray’s Fatih Terim had much stronger trump cards from the bench which he could throw in and turn the game in his favor. The entry of the Moroccan attacker Belhanda in minute 71 paid off six minutes later, when his simple maneuver ended with a goal. Hajduk did not give up, but soon conceded another goal. Former Liverpool player Ryan Babel easily scored from close range after a great penetration and assist by Marca.
While Hajduk coach Hari Vukas may have been pleased with the approach and commitment of his players, it remains a shame that they failed to score a goal.
“I congratulate Galatasaray. We played well and made it very difficult for them. We knew we could play a good game if we were at full capacity. They put pressure on us, but we also had a few good opportunities. That is how these matches are. You must take advantage of the opportunities you get. Galatasaray pushed us, and at the 75-minute mark we made a series of mistakes. Then a quality team like that punished us,” Vukas said.
Coach Vukas Optimistic About Challenges Ahead
Nevertheless, based upon this game, Hajduk can expect success in the domestic championship and cup:
“I entered the locker room and congratulated our players. Everyone gave their best, and we looked pretty good. However, we need to forget this game as soon as possible because there are new challenges ahead. The championship is coming up, and we are playing again on Sunday. We must continue our fighting spirit. We are pleased with our compactness in the middle of the field. It’s too bad we didn’t make the match with Galatasaray more difficult but we kept it uncertain until the end. We are moving ahead and turning toward the future,” Vukas concluded.