Chelsea may well be frustrated not to leave Turkey victorious but Fernando Torres' away goal in Galatasaray's cauldron of noise gives Jose Mourinho's men a 1-1 draw and a decent chance of reaching the Champions League quarterfinals.
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Having seen Manchester United follow Arsenal and Manchester City in losing their last-16 first-leg ties 2-0, the west Londoners refused to wilt under the intense pressure brought by the raucous Turk Telecom Arena crowd.
Chelsea had looked on course for victory after Torres netted in a dominant first-half display, only for Roberto Mancini's side to produce a much improved performance after the break as poor defending allowed Aurelien Chedjou to strike home.
This was a match of many a sub-plot, varying from Chelsea favourite Didier Drogba facing his former club for the first time to former Manchester City boss Mancini coming up against Mourinho, the man who succeeded him at the Inter Milan helm.
However, the build-up focused on trouble in Istanbul as anti-government protests followed a night in which Chelsea confirmed their fans were involved in two incidents, with police warning the 1,300 travelling contingent that it was "not safe" for them to use the Metro to and from ground.
It was far from the ideal preparation -- nor was the leaking of private comments from Mourinho on Samuel Eto'o and his strikers - although those that made the trip could have few complaints about the manner in which Chelsea started.
Mourinho named an attack-minded line-up and was rewarded after just nine minutes when fine play down the left ended with Fernando Torres sweeping home Cesar Azpilicueta's measured cross.
It was the first goal by an English side in Europe since Dec. 12 and one Burak Yilmaz thought he had cancelled out as half-time approached, only for his strike from a quickly-taken throw-in to be disallowed as there were two balls on the pitch.
The other was under John Terry's arm and the Chelsea captain was booked for his part in the bizarre incident, which saw him booed off the pitch at half-time by the irate home support.
Galatasaray's fanatical support would soon be thanking Terry, though. Minutes after Selcuk Inan hit the post, the Blues centre-back let Aurelien Chedjou out of his sights as he fired the hosts level to see the tie level when the teams resume battle in three weeks.