Lions assume commanding position with derby win
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
AA PhotoGalatasaray is almost certain to end the calendar year and the first half of the Spor Toto Super League campaign in top spot following a crucial 2-1 win over Fenerbahçe on Dec. 16.
The defending champion managed to hold on to its lead in a tightly-contested derby, the biggest in Turkish football.
The home team opened the scoring in the 10th minute with an own goal from Fenerbahçe defender Bekir İrtegün before left back Hasan Ali Kaldırım equalized in the 23rd.
A classy free kick by playmaker Selçuk İnan made the difference for Galatasaray in the 36th minute of the game.
With the win, Galatasaray has 32 points, five more than Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Antalyaspor, who are ranked so respectively on goal difference. However, Antalyaspor still has a game in hand and could finish the first half of the season in top spot if it acquires maximum points from its next two games – and Galatasaray loses against Trabzonspor this weekend.
The first part of the season will be completed next week.
After the game, Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim relished the prospect of getting one over his team’s fiercest rival.
“Winning those games means more than three points,” Terim said during a press conference. “When you lose, you lose your morale as well. In those games, it is important to concentrate well. If you over-concentrate for the game, you can create tension. If you are under-concentrated, you have an important rival. It was important to keep that balance. ... And I believe that we were well-prepared.”
Fenerbahçe appeared to have lost the battle psychologically, with midfielder Raul Meireles seeing red late in the game. The Portuguese ace then began a heated argument with referee Halis Özkahya and could draw a longer suspension for his trouble.
Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman refused to concede that his team was second best in the derby.
“They started attacking aggressively, but after the [first] goal, we were the side with the ambition to go on attack more,” Kocaman said. “We allowed two goals from two dead balls, two free kicks. The second half was not productive, neither for us, nor for the game of football. And the opposition’s attempts to cool and kill off the game played its part. We just could not find the rhythm to give us the equalizer.”
The Istanbul derby, which is the biggest rivalry in Turkish football, usually stages the most awe-inspiring atmosphere, but on Dec. 16, the stage belonged to Galatasaray fans only, since a previous decision by Super League clubs prohibited visiting fans from attending derbies to avoid clashes. The home team’s fans staged a typically fascinating pre-game “tifo” show in the stands, making an animation symbolizing Galatasaray’s 2000 UEFA Cup triumph, with a Lion holding the trophy – in front of a dejected Fenerbahçe player.
Fenerbahçe made an official application to overturn the derby ban last week, but the demand was rejected. However, club board member Abdullah Kiğılı announced late Dec. 16 that the club would allocate away tickets to Galatasaray fans when the two teams meet in the second half of the season.
The biggest incident outside the stadium happened with a reported attack on a Galatasaray Store on Bağdat Avenue, a stronghold for Fenerbahçe fans, located in the Asian part of the city.
Galatasaray Marketing Manager Nurettin Kantarelli announced on his personal Twitter account that the attack caused no serious damage and that “the GS Store will continue to operate on Bağdat Avenue.”