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Besiktas draw with Porto to reach Champions League last 16

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish champions Besiktas reached the Champions League last 16 for the first time in 31 years on Tuesday, as a 1-1 draw with Porto in Istanbul wrapped up top spot in Group G.

Porto silenced the vociferous home crowd with the opening goal through defender Felipe, but Besiktas equalised before half-time as Talisca scored his third goal in the competition this season.

It is the first time Besiktas have progressed from their group since the competition was reformatted in 1992, after they were thrashed 6-0 at Dynamo Kiev in their final group game last season when a win would have put them through.

But it was not a bad result for Porto, who will join Besiktas in the next round with a home win over Monaco in their final group match on December 6.

Besiktas coach Senol Gunes made just one change to the team that were held in Istanbul by Monaco three weeks ago, with Brazilian attacking midfielder Talisca taking the place of Oguzhan Ozyakup.

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas was once again left on the bench by Porto boss Sergio Conceicao in favour of Jose Sa.

The home side started strongly with Talisca inches away from diverting in a vicious cross from former Porto man Ricardo Quaresma, before Ryan Babel drew a diving save from Sa with a dipping long-range strike.

But Porto grabbed a 29th-minute lead with an excellently-worked free-kick down the right-hand side.

Quaresma and Babel switched off, with Ricardo Pereira bursting clear and crossing low for centre-back Felipe to send a first-time finish flying into the roof of the net.

The hosts almost levelled shortly afterwards as Portugal international Quaresma’s powerful volley was well-saved by Sa.

But the Turkish giants did hit back four minutes before half-time as striker Cenk Tosun cut inside and unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Talisca, on loan from Benfica, to tap into an empty net.

Besiktas were by far the better team at the start of the second period and Babel, whose recent form earned him a first Netherlands call-up since 2011 in September, almost put them ahead.

The former Liverpool winger beat two visiting defenders, but crashed a rasping effort off the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Porto were hanging on as Besiktas continued to dominate, and Sa flew to his right to tip over Quaresma’s left-footed shot, before Ricardo miskicked wide at the other end when he should have scored.

But the game slowed down late on as Besiktas closed out the draw with little trouble to banish the memories of 12 months ago.

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