Draw in derby works in Galatasaray’s favor
Fenerbahçe midfielder Alex de Souza and Galatasaray defender Semih Kaya vie for the ball during a Spor Toto Super League game at Şükrü Saraçoğlu. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELGalatasaray remains nine points clear of Fenerbahçe at the top of the Sport Toto Super League after coming from behind March 17 to grab a 2-2 draw at Şükrü Saraçoğlu against their eternal rivals.
Fenerbahçe looked on course for victory when Moussa Sow and Alex de Souza both scored in the opening 15 minutes, but Swedish striker Johan Elmander pulled one back for the visiting side before the break, and Hakan Balta equalized seven minutes from time.
Galatasaray missed the chance to win for the first time in more than 12 years at Şükrü Saraçoğlu when Czech striker Milan Baros hit the crossbar in the dying seconds of the game but managed to maintain the distance between itself and its closest rival in the standings.
At the other end of the table, bottom side Ankaragücü, which will be competing in the Bank Asya League next season, suffered its 24th defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at Bursaspor.
İshak Doğan got the visiting side back on terms in the 10th minute after Sebastian Pinto’s fourth-minute opener, but Pinto grabbed the winner a minute from time.
Elsewhere, Sivasspor and Orduspor drew 1-1 with Michael Eneramo opening the scoring for Sivasspor in the 23rd minute and Peral Javito equalizing in the 34th, while the game between Antalyaspor and Eskişehirspor finished goalless.
Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman admitted after the game that his side failed to control the game after going two goals ahead.
“My players tried to score a quick third and fourth goal and that resulted in major gaps in our defensive line,” Kocaman told reporters after the game. “These kinds of mistakes in derby games are suicidal.”
Kocaman, who renewed his contract with Fenerbahçe for another three years days before the derby game, added that Fenerbahçe players’ morale was down at half time.
“We were leading 2-1, but the mood in the dressing room was like we were losing,” said the coach, who has been struggling to keep his team together in a season marred by match-fixing allegations involving the Istanbul club. “Galatasaray had the rhythm in the second half and that created problems for us.”
Kocaman recalled that Fenerbahçe will play two more games with its archrival in the playoffs. According to the rules, the top four in the regular season will have their points halved before going into the playoffs.
“Even if we go the playoffs with the current points gap, we will have a chance to finish the job by winning those two games,” he said.
Fenerbahçe’s Brazilian midfielder Alex acknowledged that Galatasaray will have the upper hand in the playoffs. “It’s still early to start thinking about the playoffs; we still have upcoming games and we hope our rivals drop points,” said the Brazilian. “But we would love to be the team leading.”