Galatasaray's Sneijder snatches Euro spot

Wesley Sneijder's 85th-minute goal eliminates Juventus as Turkish team advances to Champions League knockout stages.

     Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder, right,  fights for the ball with Juventus's Claudio Marchisio as snow cascades [AFP]
    Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder, right, fights for the ball with Juventus's Claudio Marchisio as snow cascades [AFP]

    Wesley Sneijder has scored a late goal to help Galatasaray advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Juventus in a weather-delayed match.

    The former Inter Milan midfielder scored in the 85th minute in snowy conditions, eliminating Juventus from the competition on Wednesday.

    Didier Drogba flicked a long ball to Sneijder on the right of the penalty area and the Dutch international shot through Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci's legs and into the far bottom corner.

    It was difficult to play the ball and I think it would have been better not to play, as I said before the match.

    Roberto Mancini, Galatasary manager

    The match had been abandoned in the 32nd minute on Tuesday because of hail and snow.

    Snow still fell at the Turk Telekom Arena, but they got the match back under way where they had left off at 33 minutes in.

    The field was cleared of snow before the restart but the efforts had left it in poor condition.

    Juventus coach Antonio Conte and Drogba complained to the referee at half-time.

    "We tried to have the game postponed," Conte said.

    "There was a meeting with the UEFA delegate in which we explained the game was dangerous but maybe no one wanted to wait.

    "At half-time, I said to the referee that it wasn't safe.

    "Drogba told me 'it's the same thing for both teams' but it wasn't, because we wanted to play football.

    "I have to praise the lads, they gave everything.

    "We were punished in a huge way because we're a team which plays with the ball.

    "But we complicated our own lives by having to fight for qualification in the last match."

    Must-win situation

    Galatasaray had to win to progress to the last-16, while Juventus needed only a point to secure its advancement from Group B, which was won by Real Madrid.

    However, the Italian team was without playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who is out with damaged knee ligaments.

    Juventus had had the better of the opportunities on Tuesday, with Fernando Llorente going closest to putting the Italian side in front.

    The Spaniard controlled a cross from Arturo Vidal before volleying just wide of the left post.

    Galatasaray's best chance fell to Drogba, who sent a free kick over the wall but wide, although Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon looked to have it covered.

    Both teams clearly struggled when the match resumed and they resorted to attempting long passes as the ball kept stopping in the slush.

    Galatasaray appeared to be dealing with the conditions better than Juventus as the snow began to again fall heavily and Sneijder almost broke the deadlock in the 54th but he shot over.

    "It was difficult to play the ball and I think it would have been better not to play, as I said before the match," Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini said.

    "It was an open game in the end and we deserved to win because we were more aggressive.

    "It was impossible to play last night and no one wanted to.

    "I didn't think it was right to play today either but it was impossible to suspend the game at the end of the first half, but I agree with Conte because it was impossible - or almost - to play and it wasn't a game of football."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Senegal's village of women

    Senegal's village of women

    Women in northeast Senegal are using solar-powered irrigation to farm food and halt the encroaching desert.

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Survivors of sex trafficking and those who investigate it in the city share their stories.

    A tale of two isolations

    A tale of two isolations

    More than 1,000km apart, a filmmaker and the subject of his film contend with the methods and meanings of solitude.