Beşiktaş closes in on Turkish Süper Lig title
Beşiktaş increased its points advantage to five in the Turkish Süper Lig after mid-week games as it prepares to take on Hatayspor on May 1.
Its closest rival, Fenerbahçe, was held to a goalless draw at Alanyaspor on April 29, a day after the leader won 3-2 at Rizespor, leading to a huge advantage in the title race for Beşiktaş with four games to go.
Fenerbahçe coach Emre Belözoğlu promised to keep on fighting.
“We want to claim every possible point until the end of the season,” Belözoğlu said after the draw.
“We will keep on fighting for four weeks in the best way possible. I want to say that we continue to keep our faith.”
In Rize, Kevin N’Koudou gave the Istanbul team the lead, assisted by Rachid Ghezzal who made his 16th assist in the Süper Lig, more than any other league player.
In the second half, Gökhan Töre doubled his team’s lead and Ghezzal sent a stunning long-range strike to make the score 3-0.
A sensational free-kick goal from İsmail Köybaşı and Damjan Dokovic’s header helped the home side narrow the deficit with a few minutes remaining in the game, but they were unable to build on the momentum.
Beşiktaş coach Sergen Yalçın said he was delighted with his players’ performances and the club was totally focused on the prize.
“As a community, the president, the management, the fans, the players and the technical team are united,” he told a post-game press conference.
“On the pitch, everyone will fight to the maximum. Because championships are not won easily. You cannot be a champion without sacrifice, without suffering.”
He also criticized his side’s next rival and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) over schedule.
Beşiktaş and Hatayspor will play the only league game on May 1, while four games are scheduled for May 2 and five for May 3.
“We wanted to play the next day because there was not enough time, they [Hatayspor] did not accept,” he said.
“They insistently wanted to play on Saturday. We did not understand the reason for this. We’re talking about players, human health. We offered Rizespor, they accepted. Kayseri agreed. We thank the two communities. Why didn’t Hatayspor mind? They have no worries about being a champion or relegating. I ask the friends who make the match schedule in the federation. What are you up to? What is behind this? We, as a community, are fighting as much as we can.”
Galatasaray visits Gençlerbirliği of the relegation zone on May 2, while Fenerbahçe hosts Erzurumspor the next day.
The fight against relegation is also tough, with five points separating seven teams, three of which will join Denizlispor in the lower division next season.
In May 2’s games, Denizlispor plays Rizespor, Konyaspor hosts Karagümrük and Göztepe visits Antalyaspor.
Başakşehir vs. Ankaragücü and Malatyaspor vs. Kayserispor games will be crucial for the relegation fight on May 3, which will also see Alanyaspor playing at Kasımpaşa and Gaziantep hosting Sivasspor.