St Johnstone were denied the chance to make history in Europe as quality proved too much for the Saints in a 4-2 defeat to Galatasaray.
Chris Kane’s first-half equaliser gave the hosts a degree of belief before second-half finishes from Akturkoglu, Feghouli and Kilinc put the game to bed, dismissing all hope of a European upset for the Saints despite a late consolation from Michael O’Halloran.
The home side started the better of the pair with the packed out capacity of McDiarmid Park encouraging them from the off with a rapturous reception.
However, as expected the Turkish giants made their presence known in the 29th minute by taking the lead. A simple through ball was placed into the path of Striker, Mbaye Diang. With the beating of pace over the St Johnstone backline, he calmly slotted through the legs of Zander Clark.
Six minutes later, Saints fans were awarded the moment they had been dreaming about for the past 18 months as 10,000 supporters were sent into raptures with an equaliser. Ali McCann’s corner was met by Jason Kerr at the back post. Looping his header over the Galatasaray defenders, Chris Kane was on hand to nod the ball over the line, sending the stands into chaotic scenes.
Callum Davidson’s men continued the pressure, forcing mistakes from the visitors. Soon after, the away side were fortunate not to have their second red card of the tie. Latching onto a poor pass from Sofiane Feghouli, Kane was clattered by Marcao who looked to have been the last man in the Galatasaray defence but to the Saints players dismay the defender was only awarded a yellow.
Galatasaray came out the stronger of the teams in the second period as St Johnstone failed to reignite their energy levels from before the break. Their persistence paid off as the Cimbom retook the lead in the 63rd minute, this time through Starman, Muhammed Akturkoglu. A quick interchange saw Arda Turan flick the ball into the path of the Turkish international who kept his balance, stabbing his effort over the gloves of Clark.
Twenty minutes from time, it was game over as the quality of Galatasaray showed, racing into a two-goal lead. Former West Ham winger Sofiane Feghouli cut inside before lashing the ball low into the bottom left corner, noising up the home support as he celebrated towards the corner flag.
In the 87th minute Patrick Van Aanholt – returning to the UK after a nine-year spell in England – was preserved the blushes of an own goal. Chesting a cross towards the empty net, stand in keeper Ismail Cipe was able to rescue the situation for the Dutchman, hurling himself at the loose effort.
Cipe wasn’t done yet. He was called into action again minutes later as Murray Davidson’s glancing header had to be scooped off the line from a corner.
But it was to be Galatasaray’s night as the game was rounded off in stoppage time. Substitute Kilinc was there to soak up the ball after some calamitous defending, volleying home from close range to seal their passage into the next round.
Saints fans would have one last moment to cheer about straight from kick-off with a consolation. Substitute Shaun Rooney’s mazy run set up Michael O’Halloran with a tap in on the second attempt after his first effort was blocked on the line.
The Saints now face a rather different opposition at the weekend as they make a trip to Gayfield Park to face Arbroath in the Premier Sports League Cup. Next up in Europe, it’s a trip to Austria next Thursday with a place in the group stages of the Europa Conference League up for grabs.
Man of the Match – Alastair McCann
After two impressive performances against world-class opposition at such a young age, there is no doubt Callum Davidson will have a hard task holding on to the Northern Irish international this summer. The pitch was McCann’s playground tonight as he showcased his talents with a magical display in the centre of the park, making a mockery out of the Turkish outfit at times with his flicks and tricks on top of his constant pressure.
Referee: Andris Treimanis
Home Side: Saints: Clark, Brown (Rooney 67), McCart, Kerr, Gordon, Davidson, Kane (May 66), O’Halloran, McCann, Booth (Devine 82), Craig (Hendry 71)
Unused Substitutes: Parish (GK), Sinclair (GK), Muller, Ballantyne, Northcott, Denham
Booked: Kane, Craig, Davidson, Hendry
Scorers: Kane (36 ), O’Halloran (90+3)
Galatasaray: Çipe, Antalyali (Öztürk 89), van Aanholt, Aktürkoğlu (Mohamed 82), Kutlu, Luyindama, Marcão, Turan (Babel 73), Feghouli (Kilinç 88), Diagne (Kara 83), Boey
Unused Substitutes: Yilmaz (GK), Balaban (GK), Yedlin, Bayram, Yilmaz, Sekidika
Booked: Çipe, Marcão, van Aanholt
Scorers: Diagne (29), Aktürkoğlu (64), Feghouli (70), Kilinç (90+2)