Defending Turkish Super League champion Beşiktaş
maintained its lead at the top of the standings with three games remaining after it scored a hard-fought victory over historic rival Bursaspor in the closing game of week 31 on May 15.
The Black Eagles started the must-win game in spirited form but, despite a couple of close calls, failed to score in the first half, which was marked by a stoppage in play after explosives were thrown at Beşiktaş
winger Ricardo Quaresma.
Quaresma escaped the referee’s discipline after he kicked Bursaspor’s Cristobal Jorquera in the back in the 18th minute.
The visitors from Istanbul boosted the pressure in the second half and pulled ahead on 65 minutes when sub Cenk Tosun beat Bursaspor keeper Harun Tekin from close range with a nifty move.
The goal came just five minutes after Bursaspor’s Kubilay missed a one-on-one with Beşiktaş
keeper Fabricio in his side’s only open chance for the whole game.
Bursaspor failed to apply pressure in the closing minutes, and the Istanbul team found another goal through Vincent Aboubakar with the last play of the match to secure three precious points and maintain its two-point advantage over second-place Başakşehir.
“Despite the difficulties we faced, we took control and managed to win,” Cameroon international Aboubakar said after the game, referring to a draw with arch rival Fenerbahçe
a week earlier and a 3-1 loss to Başakşehir before that.
“I congratulate Cenk,” said Beşiktaş’s Tolgay Arslan. “We entered the game and changed it. Everyone in this team is special.”
The game was physically challenging for both sides, said Beşiktaş
coach Şenol Güneş, who is also a former Bursa manager.
“We won against a very resistant team and gained confidence,” he said.
His counterpart, Adnan Örnek, said the solid game against Beşiktaş
had given his side hope for the future despite the loss, as the 2009-2010 champions had come into the game on the back of three straight defeats in which they had been outscored 16-1.
Beşiktaş will take on city rival Kasımpaşa on May 16.
Başakşehir had forged ahead in the title race pending Beşiktaş’s match after it edged out a 2-1 win versus Gençlerbirliği on May 13. The Istanbul upstarts will visit Trabzonspor, which has enjoyed some of the best form in the second half of the season, on May 21.
Kasımpaşa, meanwhile, beat Çaykur Rizespor 4-2 on the opening day of the week as Kayserispor won 2-1 against Atiker Konyaspor.
Adanaspor drew 1-1 with Trabzonspor
but became the first team to be relegated, although Rize and Gaziantepspor are almost certain to join them in the second tier next season.
bowed 1-0 to Antalyaspor on May 13 and were officially eliminated from the title hunt after Beşiktaş’s victory.
On May 14, Osmanlıspor bowed 4-0 at home to Akhisar Belediyespor as Aytemiz Alanyaspor beat Kardemir Karabükspor 4-2.
Gaziantep also fell 2-1 to Galatasaray, which is trying to fend off Trabzonspor’s challenge for the final Europa League spot.