Fenerbahçe savors 2-1 derby win, arch-rivals Galatasaray savors league title
Fenerbahçe secured its Champions League spot, leaving third-placed Beşiktaş three points behind. AA photo
Fenerbahçe clinched the final derby of the season against arch-rivals Galatasaray 2-1 at their cauldron Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium, following a brace from star striker Pierre Webo.
Galatasaray were crowned league champions last weekend, and although both teams were only playing for pride the match still offered moments of tension and drama, reflecting the fierce rivalry between the two Istanbul giants.
Despite losing on the night, Galatasaray's players celebrated their league win in the middle of the pitch at the end of the game in front of 50,000 Fenerbahçe fans.
The Yellow Canaries started the match keen to offer their fans a consolation derby glory that may sooth the loss of the title race, but it was Galatasaray who opened the scoring in the 23th minute. The Lions found Didier Drogba alone in Fenerbahçe's area after a big defensive mistake, while scrambling to block Drogba's path, defender Gökhan Gönül clumsily touched the ball with his hand. Referee Cüneyt Çakır immediately signaled to the penalty spot, and the Super League's dauntless top scorer Burak Yılmaz scored his 23th goal of the season, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
However, Fenerbahçe soon bounced back, finding an equalizer on the 33th minute. After a perfectly executed one-two with Gönul, spidery striker Pierre Webo headed into Fernando Muslera’s net.
Fenerbahçe took the lead just three minutes later, with Webo scoring his second goal, this time after receiving an incisive pass from Emre Belözoğlu. Galatasaray players protested the referee, claiming Webo had fouled Cameroon international Emmanuel Eboue, but the referee was unbending.
The Yellow Canaries continued to enjoy a majority of the possession at the beginning of the second half, and Webo came close to scoring a hat-trick in the 54th minute.
Galatasaray struggled to create goal opportunities, relying on the talent of their attacking duo, Drogba and Yılmaz, for openings. The Ivorian came close to scoring in the 60th minute, heading narrowly wide after a convincing delivery from Selçuk İnan. Yılmaz also narrowly missed a chance in the 82nd minute, putting the ball over the crossbar following another pass from İnan.
Fenerbahçe responded with a rocket from Moussa Sow on the edge of the area that hit the post before bouncing back to Dirk Kuyt, whose header was then somehow blocked by Galatasaray keeper Fernando Muslera.
In the final few minutes, the game finally gained the momentum it had previously lacked. Yılmaz got another clear scoring opportunity inside Fenerbahçe’s area but his shot was saved by Fener keeper Volkan Demirel, to the relief of the home fans.
It all then kicked off in injury time, as tension erupted following a melee that broke out between Volkan and the usually steadfast Sabri Sarıoğlu. Both players were sent off by the referee, sending both teams down to 10 men. Fenerbahçe had already made its three changes, so midfielder Mehmet Topal had to wear the goalkeeper's gloves for the thrilling final minutes.
However, the scoreboard did not change and Fenerbahçe therefore all but secured its Champions League spot, leaving third-placed Beşiktaş three points behind ahead of the season’s last round of fixtures next week.