Lions enjoy title but delay frenzy until end of season

Lions enjoy title but delay frenzy until end of season

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Lions enjoy title but delay frenzy until end of season

Selçuk İnan and Burak Yılmaz scored two goals apiece to give Galatasaray a 4-2 victory over Sivasspor on May 5. DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah GÜREL

Four beautiful goals, no hassles and a packed stadium: Galatasaray enjoyed clinching its 19th Turkish title without the slightest worry, but said the bigger celebrations would come at the end of season.

Selçuk İnan and Burak Yılmaz scored two goals apiece to give Galatasaray a 4-2 victory over Sivasspor on May 5. In the end, the victory wasn’t even needed to give the Lions an unassailable lead over their archrivals Fenerbahçe after the Yellow Canaries fell 2-0 to Istanbul BB.

There were celebrations on the pitch, and all over the country, but still, the Lions said they were leaving the celebrations until the end of the season.

“Yesterday we had fun briefly,” coach Fatih Terim told GS TV, the club’s official broadcaster. “We will leave the celebrations until after the final game.”

As referee Fırat Aydınus blew the final whistle, which was right after Cihan Özkara had scored Sivasspor’s second goal, some 52,000 fans at the Türk Telekom Arena started celebrations. Actually, the celebrations started even before the game, with Galatasaray fans’ pre-game rituals, including a gathering at the Ali Sami Yen Sokak, or unveiling many banners at the stadium. After spending 29 weeks at the top of the standings, Galatasaray needed just one victory in its final three games to be assured of the title; still, the team needed to remain calm and find the winning goal.

Finding the first goal at the Türk Telekom Arena has been Galatasaray’s biggest problem in a season where almost everything else was perfect. The team had conceded early goals and had to come back from behind in two key games against Mersin İdman Yurdu and Orduspor. On paper, those were victories that came against ultimately relegated teams, but ask any Galatasaray fans, and they will single out those matches for showing the team’s determination to win the title.

On May 5, Galatasaray denied Sivasspor a chance to spoil the party. The energetic midfield line and the two powerful forwards, Didier Drogba and Burak Yılmaz, started to trouble the Sivasspor defense from the get-go. Selçuk scored one of his trademark free-kick goals in the eighth minute and allayed any worries about finding the opener. Then Galatasaray was in the drivers’ seat, and the game was killed off with two early goals in the second half.

In the end, Galatasaray players had to wait for 15 minutes for coach Fatih Terim to join the celebrations. Terim is still serving his nine-match touchline ban for an outburst during the Mersin İdman Yurdu game. Terim’s presence was not missed, but the iconic coach was sitting in his seat just meters away from the bench. After the stadium lights were dimmed and flags marking every single one of Galatasaray’s 19 titles were unfurled from the Türk Telekom Arena roof, it was time for the celebrations, including Terim.

Drogba was seen carrying Wesley Sneijder on his shoulders, saluting the crowd. Those two superstars, who have six Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Eredivisie titles and two Champions League victories between them, were enjoying the Spor Toto Super League title as if it was their debut trophy – in a clear sign of the way they adapted to their team, four months after their sensational transfers.

Most of the team enjoyed retaining the title, but for one player, it was a debut actually. Burak, who added eight Champions League goals to his league-best 22 domestic goals, said he was very happy with the first league trophy of his career and said it was “much more important than being the top goal scorer.”

On May 12, Galatasaray will visit Fenerbahçe in the latest rendition of Turkish football’s biggest rivalry. The result will not have an impact on the standings, but getting one over its rival is very important for both sides and that could be why Galatasaray refused to make the biggest celebrations on May 5.