Beşiktaş win thrilling Turkish title race on goal difference
Beşiktaş seized the Turkish Süper Lig title for the 16th time on May 15 night with a 2-1 win away to Göztepe, clinching the title on goal difference ahead of its Istanbul rival Galatasaray in a tense end to the season.
The three-team title race, with Fenerbahçe finishing two points behind in third, went down to the final day after Beşiktaş suffered back-to-back defeats against Galatasaray and Karagümrük.
Galatasaray briefly led the as-it-stood table when Ryan Babel’s goal saw the club come from behind to lead Malatyaspor 2-1 after an hour.
But Beşiktaş edged back ahead when Algeria international Rachid Ghezzal netted a 69th-minute penalty at Göztepe and it held on for all three points and the narrowest of title triumphs.
On-loan midfielder Ghezzal’s championship-winning goal was scored on the same day his parent club Leicester won the English FA Cup for the first time in its history.
Beşiktaş defender Domagoj Vida had given the visiting side an early lead, but it was canceled out by Alpaslan Öztürk’s equalizer.
Galatasaray, coached by ex-Turkey manager Fatih Terim, did net a third in injury-time through Oğulcan Çağlayan, but had to settle for a 3-1 victory to come up two goals short, with Beşiktaş having also scored more across the season.
Fenerbahçe won 2-1 against Kayserispor.
The usual wild celebrations of champions in Turkey’s largest city were muted, with the country under lockdown due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases.
The victory brought relief to Beşiktaş after a nervous end to the season, with defeats in its previous two matches. Last weekend it lost 3-1 away to Galatasaray, which won its final six games.
Beşiktaş last won the Süper Lig title in the 2016-2017 season but the club’s fortunes revived this season under coach Sergen Yalçın, a former star player at the club.
“It was the toughest season in Turkish football history in my opinion,” Yalçın said after the Göztepe game.
“We are very happy, this is one of the happiest day of our lives. The success belongs to my players, who showed incredible character.”
Beşiktaş has the chance to claim the domestic double on May 18 when it plays Antalyaspor in the Turkish Cup Final.
The last week’s games also determined the last team to be relegated to the lower division.
Gençlerbirliği, which lost 2-1 at Trabzonspor, will join already-relegated Denizlispor, Ankaragücü and Erzurumspor in the First League next season.
Gençlerbirliği were previously relegated to a lower league in 2018 but returned to the top flight in 2019.
It will be the first time no club from the capital Ankara competes in the Süper Lig since the 1980-1981 season.