Lions of Galatasaray crowned champions after dominant victory

Lions of Galatasaray crowned champions after dominant victory

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Lions of Galatasaray crowned champions after dominant victory

Galatasaray secured the 2012-13 Super League title with a 4-2 win over Sivasspor. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Galatasaray has painted the country red and yellow, securing a record 19th Super League championship by defeating a Sivasspor team that was little more than a bit player in an encounter that was more a coronation than a match.

Backed by two wonder strikes from the imperious Selçuk İnan, Galatasaray took home the league silverware for the second year in a row, defeating Sivas 4-2 in a match that was never in doubt and sending supporters across the country onto the streets in celebration, particularly to Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square.

Needing only to match Fenerbahçe’s result in the Yellow Canaries’ concurrent match away to Istanbul BB, Hasan Şaş, who has taken over Galatasaray’s coaching duties for the rest of the season due to a nine-match suspension to regular bench boss Fatih Terim, sent out a full-strength side for the encounter, and the Lions attempted to put their nerves to rest early with a quick strike.

They were duly rewarded in the eighth minute when Selçuk, taking a break from his usual role as midfield playmaker, turned goalscorer with a textbook free kick from the edge of the area. Selçuk, who has made a habit of scoring on set plays from distance, found the perfect arc on his strike to thread the ball in at the near post despite the best efforts of Canadian international Milan Borjan in the Sivasspor goal.

The Central Anatolians, were not without their chances, however, as Uruguayan ’keeper Fernando Muslera had to save smartly from an Erman Kılıç drive in the 29th minute.

Ivorian star Didier Drogba seemed destined to put Galatasaray in front in the 36th minute, only for his header off a corner to rebound off the bar. 

Nonetheless, Galatasaray did receive some breathing room – thanks to Istanbul BB, who shocked Fenerbahçe with a breakaway goal from Ömer Can Sokullu in the 36th minute to give the much-maligned municipality-run club a lifeline in its relegation fight and all but snuff out Fenerbahçe’s faint title aspirations.

Galatasaray created some insurance of their own soon after half-time, as Burak Yılmaz took a pass before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Borjan to tally his league-leading 21st goal of the season.

Though Burak scored with a whole 37 minutes remaining, the strike sealed Cim Bom’s 19th championship as far as the 52,000 supporters at the Türk Telekom Arena were concerned. But if the rest of the match was just a procession, it still had time for a crowning moment, with Selçuk doubling his tally after exquisitely volleying to himself over the head of his marker before sending another volley – this time of the blistering variety – into the roof of Borjan’s net in minute 60.

Amid the celebrations, there was time yet, too, for Burak to score a second past the unenviable Borjan, as well as two more fantastic strikes, this time from Sivas’ Kadir Bekmezci and Cihan Özkara when the match was no longer in doubt, but the goals were lost in the haze of the party atmosphere.

The Lions grabbed a hold of the league lead way back on Sept. 2, 2012, with a victory over Bursaspor and never relinquished it, despite the occasional wobble.

After splashing out so much cash on star signings Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, a league title was somewhat of a necessity for the Lions, thanks to a championship’s guarantee of at least 8 million euros in extra cash in the club’s coffers due to a berth in the group stages of the Champions League.

Elsewhere, a fatigued Fenerbahçe failed to put up much resistance against Istanbul BB after it became clear Galatasaray was destined to win the title, falling 2-0 the Gray Owls. Importantly for Istanbul BB, the result allowed it to crawl out of a relegation spot after the recently impressive Akhisar Belediye Gençlik fell 4-3 away to Antalyaspor.

Earlier in the day, Beşiktaş guaranteed themselves a place in European competition next season with a 2-1 win over Eskişehirspor.