No goals but much to talk about at Istanbul derby
ÇETİN CEM YILMAZ ISTANBUL
A hail of objects thrown at Emmanuel Eboue (inset) was a main talking point during the match of the weekend. AA photo
Apart from goals, the Spor Toto Super League derby between Beşiktaş and Galatasaray had all the drama and controversy that a football match could.
The match between the two Istanbul rivals, who trail leader and defending champion Fenerbahçe, ended in a goalless stalemate on Nov. 20 but gave fans a lot to talk about.
On the pitch, the two teams failed to dictate the tempo of the game. It was due to the underperforming stars for Beşiktaş, whose Portuguese trio, Ricardo Quaresma, Simao Sabrosa and Hugo Almeida, looked dangerous but lacked that final sting to better their rivals.
And it was “les enfants terribles” that were missing in action for Galatasaray – combative midfielder Felipe Melo along with wingers Colin Kazım Richards and Engin Baytar, all failed to show their lethal qualities that have brought Galatasaray the points this season.
Highlights from the match came from Beşiktaş’ Fabian Ernst who was at his best tirelessly running from box to box, and the center back duo of Egemen Korkmaz and Tomas Sivok were reliable as always.
For Galatasaray, there was another story of heroism, as youngster Semih Kaya took a confident step toward becoming a mainstay of coach Fatih Terim’s selection. Playing his first big game at the club, the 20-year-old did not miss a beat playing alongside veteran Tomas Ujfalusi.
But the real star of the night was Fernando Muslera. The Uruguayan goalkeeper got a hand to every single one of Beşiktaş’s 10 shots on goal, showing cat-like agility. The 25-year-old’s performance was enough to persuade Galatasaray fans that the team’s void in goal has finally been filled after many painful years.
Terim’s gamble to bring on too many attackers was worth watching as well. The former Turkish international coach had to take off Sabri Sarıoğlu due to injury after he played only eight minutes for Ayhan Akman. However, despite an amazingly vulnerable midfield line that featured playmaker Selçuk İnan, along with Kazım (originally a winger) and Johan Elmander (a forward), Galatasaray did not concede too many chances at İnönü Stadium in the last half hour.
During the latter period of the game, it was more about the stands. As planned, Beşiktaş’s famously socially sensitive fan-base took their shirts off in the 65th minute, showing sympathy for the shivering people of Van, who were hit by a devastating earthquake last month that rendered hundreds of thousands homeless on the cold shores of Lake Van.
However, a few minutes later, the same fan group was raining missiles down on Emmanuel Eboue. The Ivory Coast defender was hit several times when about to take a throw in. After the game, both teams’ fans took to social media, with Galatasaray supporters claiming on Twitter he was the victim of racist abuse. Beşiktaş fans heatedly rejected the allegations, relying on their famous “We are all black” banner dating back a decade, shown after a referee called Pascal Nouma “black.” Actually there was no sign of racial motivation behind the hatred, since similar outrage was shown at Turkish Engin Baytar as well. Beşiktaş fans argued that Eboue may have exaggerated a bit – the former Arsenal player held his head instead of his back – where the lighters and a bottle actually hit. But it was definitely a negative point for fans getting all the sympathy votes.