Beşiktaş defends top spot before New Year’s
AA PhotoIstanbul’s Beşiktaş maintained its top spot in the Turkish Spor Toto Super League, narrowly winning a difficult away game against Central Anatolia’s Torku Konyaspor.
After weathering an early home side storm in the first quarter, the Black and Whites found the net with its first attempt on goal through a 20th-minute strike from Gökhan Töre.
The rest of the opening half saw the home team searching for the equalizer yet coming up empty-handed due to poor finishing.
Konyaspor upped the pressure again after the restart, only to see Argentinian Jose Sosa double Beşiktaş’s lead with a bullet from outside the box on 58 minutes.
In an effort to erase the deficit, the home side attacked and managed to pull one back through Hasan Kabze’s penalty five minutes before full time. Beşiktaş also lost Atiba Hutchinson due to a second yellow after a quarrel with the referee as the Canadian infringed on the box during the penalty kick.
A string of brilliant saves by Beşiktaş keeper Tolga Zengin kept Konya at bay.
“It was a difficult match because our opponent tried really hard to put an end to their recent slide. After finding an early goal, we unnecessarily pulled back and let them dominate but looked more offensive in the second half,” Beşiktaş coach Slaven Bilic said, who once more complained of a busy schedule.
“Needless to say, our defense won the game for us tonight. Sometimes, you have to grind results out, and that’s exactly what we did in this one.”
The coach also added that Hutchinson would be punished for a reckless suspension that “let the team down” for the rest of the game while also ruling him out ahead of the crucial derby against Galatasaray next week.
Next week’s game could alter the lead at the top of the standings as Turkey’s league heads into a short winter break, although Galatasaray is three points behind the Black Eagles after only drawing against Ankara’s Gençlerbirliği away on Dec. 26 when it was pegged back in the 71st minute by Bogdan Stancu, a former Lions player.
Fenerbahçe grabbed hold of second after a 1-0 home win against Mersin İdmanyurdu. Next week, the Yellow Canaries will eye first spot against Başakşehir, another Istanbul team, one day before the derby between its city rivals.
Başakşehir is fourth in the standings after a 3-1 win against Kayseri Erciyesspor, which is feeling the heat of the relegation battle.
Balıkesirspor won its second game in a row and third in total, as Black Sea hosts Kardemir Karabükspor missed countless chances before conceding a last-minute winner by veteran striker Gökhan Ünal, who was actually offside on the play.
Bursaspor defeated Gaziantepspor away 2-1 on Dec. 28.
Kasımpaşa and Sivasspor played out a goalless game in the home of the former as the visitors took their first test under coach Sergen Yalçın, who replaced Brazilian former star Roberto Carlos. Çaykur Rizespor, meanwhile, also put four without reply past Akhisar Belediye on Dec. 28.