Galatasaray wins to extend league lead
Galatsaray players celebrate after beating city rival Beşiktaş 3-2 at home in an Istanbul derby. Galatasaray leads the league nine points clear of its closest rival. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELGalatasaray has extended its lead at the top of the Spor Toto Super League with a hard-fought 3-2 win at home over Beşiktaş.
Johan Elmander was the hero for the league leader in the clash Feb. 26 as he opened the scoring before İbrahim Toraman equalized for Beşiktaş. Felipe Melo restored the lead in the 52nd minute, but when Semih Kaya scored a goal in the 73rd, the game was heading for a draw.
However, Swedish striker Elmander scored in added time to snatch a potentially crucial win which put his side nine points clear at the summit.
Speaking after the game, Galatsaray coach Fatih Terim congratulated his players for winning a derby game. “I’m happy to have won a crucial game, but the title race is not over yet,” Terim told reporters. “We must not act like it is over. We need to work and fight harder to achieve our long-time goals.”
The victory put Galatasaray nine points clear of its closest rival, Fenerbahçe, which lost 2-1 at Eskişehirspor Feb. 25, with six games to go in the regular season.
The teams will then head to a playoff, with the top four teams playing against each other to determine the champion and the subsequent European places; the more successful teams during the regular season, however, will start at a comparative advantage in the playoff.
The top team after the playoff will be declared champion, while the runner-up will enter the Champions League qualification round. The third place team, meanwhile, will enter the Europa League preliminaries.
The fourth team will play the winner of a second playoff group featuring the teams that finished fifth to eighth during the regular season.
In the other games in the Spor Toto Super League on Feb. 26, fourth-placed Trabzonspor slipped up in a 3-2 home defeat by unfancied Mersin İdman Yurdu. Sivasspor had two men sent off in a 3-3 draw away to Gençlerbirliği. Yasin Öztekin scored at two minutes and Herve Tum put the Ankara club two goals ahead, but Ricardo Pedriel pulled one back with a 30th-minute penalty. He then scored another 11 minutes after the break to level the score at two apiece.
Randall Azofeifa put Gençlerbirliği 3-2 up in the 65th minute before Sivasspor pair Ziya Erdal and Murat Akça were sent off with full-time approaching. The visitors rallied, though, and Jakub Navratil scored a dramatic added-time leveler.