Black Eagles fly to hard-fought Turkish league title

Black Eagles fly to hard-fought Turkish league title

Black Eagles fly to hard-fought Turkish league title

AA photo

Millions of Beşiktaş fans across Turkey celebrating their club’s hard-fought 14th Spor Toto Super League title on May 16.

Having played all but three of its games this season away from its original home, The Istanbul-based club crowned itself champion on May 15, posting a 3-1 victory over Ankara’s Osmanlıspor at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul in front of more than 40,000 supporters to clinch its first league title since 2009 and claim Turkey’s sole automatic Champions League spot.

Beşiktaş entered the day six points up on closest rival Fenerbahçe and needed just a point to secure the title on the penultimate day of action. As it is, the Black Eagles took all three points, rendering Fenerbahçe’s 2-1 victory over Ankara’s other top-flight side, Gençlerbirliği, academic with one week to go.

Defender Marcelo broke the deadlock in the 21st minute with a header off a corner kick for the home side.

Three minutes later, he scored his second when he found a ball outside the box following another corner.

Incredibly, the goals represented Marcelo’s first brace of his career.

Beşiktaş’s prolific German striker Mario Gomez, loaned from Italy’s Fiorentina at the start of the season, found the net in the third minute of the second half, reinforcing his place as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals so far, six more than Antalyaspor’s Samuel Eto’o. 

“There was a great atmosphere and I went through all kinds of emotion. For me this season has been like a dream,” Gomez, who has resurrected his career after arriving on loan from Fiorentina, said after the game.

The comfortable 3-0 lead provided ample opportunity for Beşiktaş supporters to hit the streets early to begin the celebrations, as Cameroonian international Pierre Webo’s strike for Osmanlıspor with 16 minutes remaining offered little more than consolation. More supporters poured onto the streets at the final whistle, turning the Çarşı area of Beşiktaş, as well as Taksim Square and other areas in Ankara and İzmir into a sea of black and white.

Şenol Güneş, the experienced Turkey coach who took Turkey’s men’s team to the lofty heights of third place at the FIFA 2002 World Cup, clinched his first title as a coach in his career. 

Güneş said it was now the turn of Beşiktaş to shine after years of domination by Istanbul rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray.

“Fenerbahçe is a good team, a strong team, but we are better. Everyone is looking at Beşiktaş with respect,” he said.

Beşiktaş was the most consistent team under Güneş, but faces a challenge to attract more international stars, or even hold onto Gomez who has the right to return to Fiorentina.

Gomez declined to be drawn on his future but indicated that he could yet stay. “I am here now and I know very well what the conditions are at Beşiktaş. We have the Champions League in front of us. I feel good things.”

Güneş said it was in the interests of the 30-year-old to stay put in Turkey. “If Mario stays, I think it is good for his career. Mario helped us but we also helped Mario. He won’t lose anything by staying, by going he could lose.”

Week 33 action in the league saw Eskişehirspor lose 2-1 at home to Kayserispor to become the second team to fall from the top flight after Mersin İdmanyurdu.

The last team to be relegated to the First Division will be determined last week. A draw at home against Antalyaspor on May 19 will be enough for Gaziantepspor to stay in the Super League, while Sivasspor will need to beat visiting Fenerbahçe and hope Gaziantepspor loses to avoid its first-ever relegation.