Dark horse Başakşehir reaches winter break on top
ISTANBULMedipol Başakşehir, the dark horse of the Turkish Spor Toto Super League, has finished the first half of the season on top of the standings, one point ahead of defending champion Beşiktaş, despite a draw over the weekend.
The Turkish League goes into a nearly 20-day break before the last match week games of the first half.
The league will go into the break after the Gençlerbirliği-Bursaspor and Trabzonspor-Fenerbahce games on Dec. 26 before resuming on Jan. 15, 2017.
Başakşehir forged ahead against relegation-threatened Adanaspor when Joseph Larweh Attamah scored just minutes before end of the first half on Dec. 24.
However, the host equaled matters in the 52th minute.
Referee Hüseyin Göcek’s cancelation of a goal by Marcio Mossoro in the 72nd minute after a consultation with the linesman angered the players, but Başakşehir coach Abdullah Avcı was calm after the game.
“It was a difficult game. We are happy that we won and finished the first half on top. Our rival displayed a very strong struggle in a bid to move up in the standing. I congratulate both Adanaspor players and ours, who managed to finish the first half on top,” Avcı said.
Başakşehir took the league lead in week three, when it beat Istanbul rival Kasımpaşa 3-1, and has not abandoned its perch since.
Meanwhile, Beşiktaş narrowly beat Gaziantepspor at home, in a game in which it faced dangerous attacks from the visitor.
Black Eagles came close to breaking the deadlock with a couple of early chances but had to wait until the 41st minute for the lead when Vincent Aboubakar hit the target with a brilliant effort from inside the box.
Beşiktaş sought an insurance goal in the second half but could not beat the visitor’s keeper, Gökhan Değirmenci, who made a string of excellent saves, including one from Oğuzhan Özyakup’s penalty kick.
Nevertheless, the Black Eagles were more than happy to leave the pitch with all three points.
“To grab a piece of first place, we needed this win. We were the superior side throughout the game but still gave away some serious chances. We have to be better defensively,” said coach Şenol Güneş after the game, criticizing striker Cenk Tosun for allowing Özyakup to take the penalty only to miss it.
Gaziantepspor, the southeastern side which has just appointed iconic former Beşiktaş left back İbrahim Üzülmez as coach, had a number of subsequent chances but could not restore parity.
Antep remains in the relegation places, two points from safety pending results on Dec. 25.
Former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel, who according to media reports is close to signing with Beşiktaş, was among the fans watching the game at the Vodafone Arena Stadium.
The Dutchman, who played at Turkey’s Kasımpaşa between 2013 and 2015, moved to Al Ain before signing with Spain’s Deportivo La Coruna.