MANY questioned how St Johnstone could top their cup double last season. 

But tonight they arguably produced the best result of Callum Davidson’s reign in charge. 

The Perth outfit fought hard to earn a massive 1-1 draw against Galatasaray in third round qualifying of the Europa League ahead of next week’s return leg at McDiarmid Park. 

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Saints had to ride a storm early in the first half with Galatasaray having three clear cut chances within the space of the first 15 minutes. 

Mostafa Mohamed was first to have a go when he was picked out by Aytac Kara in the middle of the box. The Egyptian striker got his volleyed effort all wrong though as he sent the ball high into the stands. 

Turkish midfielder Kerem Aktürkoğlu then struck the post from just inside the area after Kara once again provided the pinpoint delivery into the box. 

Goalkeeper Zander Clark had to look smart to stop the rebound, but much to Saints’ relief there was a flag up for offside. 

Clark was once again called into action when Marcao bulleted a header towards goal on 15 minutes, but again the 6ft 2in keeper stood strong and provided a stunning save to his right. 

As the minutes ticked over Davidson’s men began to grow into the game and midfielder Murray Davidson almost found the back of the net with Saints’ first real foray into opposition territory. 

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The McDiarmid Park veteran latched onto a Shaun Rooney long throw, but his low shot was held comfortably by Muslera in the Galatasaray goal. 

Davidson’s midfield partner Ali McCann looked at home in a midfield battle full of international talent and his energy and drive resulted in another chance for the Scottish visitors. 

The Northern Irishman pinched possession in the middle of the park before driving towards the Galatasaray box.  

McCann ignored runs by Chris Kane and Rooney before sliding in David Wotherspoon on the wide left. The Canadian international produced a trademark cut inside before curling an effort into the arms of Muslera. 

Before the half was out Kerem had another opportunity when he used his pace to burst into the Saints final third. The Perth defence provided plenty of pressure and as a result he could only steer his effort wide of the target. 

The half-time whistle was a welcome break for Saints who dug deep in the first period, enduring the scorching Turkish heat. 

The high 20-degree temperature clearly had an impact on the Perth outfit, and they were caught napping early in the second half. 

Berkan Kutlu had acres of space inside the area as Sacha Boey hit the byline and delivered. His header went sailing over the crossbar however, and it was a let off for Saints. 

It was then in the 58th minute that St Johnstone took a shock lead via the way of skipper Jason Kerr.  

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Chris Kane took advantage of a shocking back pass before driving in on goal and pipping the ball away from goalkeeper Muslera. 

The experienced stopper then hauled Kane to the ground as the frontman was about to pull the trigger. Referee Sandro Schärer had no doubts and pointed straight to the spot before flashing a red card at the goalkeeper. 

The hosts took their time to bring on substitute goalie Berk Balaban, but the wait didn’t phase Kerr, who slammed his penalty into the bottom corner. 

Saints’ lead lasted all of two minutes as Fatih Terim’s side hauled themselves back into the game.  

Manchester United loanee Reece Devine was caught out of position before Boey fired across Clark into the far corner to send the home fans wild. 

Clark had no chance, but St Johnstone’s No1 produced the best performance out of his goalkeeping counterparts in Istanbul. 

Substitute Balaban almost produced a bigger howler than his skipper Muslera, when he was caused all sorts of problems by Stevie May. 

The former Aberdeen and Sheffield Wednesday striker pinched possession on the byline as Balaban tried to see the ball out of play. May then curled one towards the empty net but Marcao swept up well on the goal line. 

In the dying stages Saints put their bodies on the line to gain an important draw ahead of next week’s return leg in the Fair City. 

Jamie McCart got his face in the way of a Diagne shot before Clark produced a spectacular save to deny Luyindama from a corner. 

It was a tremendous display by the Perth players and manager Callum Davidson was full of praise for his team at full-time.  

He said: “I’m obviously delighted. To come to a place like this and get a result against a fantastic Galatasaray side is great.  

“We had to work really hard tonight. We tried to do things right. Galatasaray had the majority of possession and created chances. We created a few chances ourselves. And obviously the penalty and sending off was a big turning point in the game. 

“It gives us hope in the second leg to have something to play for. 

“Galatasaray are a very good team, they will come at us, they have a lot of talented players, so we will need to make sure we are ready and give ourselves a chance to get a result and make it difficult for them.”