ISTANBUL – Turkish champions Besiktas reached the last-16 of the Champions League for the first time as they fought back for a 1-1 draw at home to Porto in their penultimate Group G match on Wednesday.
Besiktas are the first Turkish club ever to finish top of their group after they earned a point with a close-range equaliser by Brazilian Talisca in the 41st minute following a marvellous assist from Cenk Tosun, who won the ball in midfield.
The hosts fell behind just before the half-hour when Porto’s Felipe netted from a pass by Ricardo, who cut the ball back from the byline, but they recovered to make history.
“We’re through to the round of 16 for the first time and for that, Besiktas deserve congratulations,” said defender Pepe.
“We knew it was going to be hard here against a Porto team, who are solid at the back and have players who can catch you off guard in attack.
“However, we controlled the game well, and in the end celebrated qualification in front of our own fans.”
Besiktas are top with 11 points from five games, with Porto second on seven ahead of Leipzig.
The German side are three points behind the Portuguese before they visit bottom side Monaco, who have two points, later on Wednesday.
Porto have a better head-to-head record against Leipzig, so Wednesday’s draw leaves qualification in their own hands.
Meanwhile, Spartak Moscow conceded a stoppage-time goal to draw 1-1 at home with Slovenians Maribor on Tuesday in a scrappy Group E clash that dealt a body blow to the Russian side’s chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
The result left Russian champions Spartak third in the group on six points from five games, two behind leaders Liverpool and one adrift of second-placed Sevilla, who were playing later.
The home side dominated throughout, but were unable to break down a packed and well-organised Maribor defence until the 83rd minute, when Ze Luis scrambled the ball past keeper Jasmin Handanovic from seven metres.
Just when it seemed Spartak were home and dry, late Maribor substitute Jasmin Mesanovic stroked the ball into an empty net after Marcos Tavares broke down the right and delivered a fizzing low cross, which left the home team’s defence flat-footed.