Underdogs push Turkish title contenders down
CİHAN photoMulti-million dollar stars failed to save Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, the three main title contenders in the Turkish Super League, from the hands of their rather moderate rivals, with Galatasaray, the defending champions, bowing to a new member of the league, Osmanlıspor, in a home game.
Ankara side Osmanlıspor’s Serdar Deliktaş broke the deadlock in the 29th minute of the game on Aug. 24.
Galatasaray playmaker Selçuk İnan found the equalizer before the end of the first half but the visiting side’s Gabriel Torje, who arrived from Italy’s Udinese Calcio this summer, gave the visitors a second lead, capitalizing on a mistake by Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu was praised last season for the title win, but the wind has changed with one draw and one loss to start the season. The coach said after the game he would not hesitate to leave the post if he believed he could not add more to the team.
“We should show our fans and rivals our power,” said Lucas Podolski, a summer contract signing of Galatasaray after the game. “We have only one point in the first two games but the season is long.”
Galatasaray’s defeat gave Fenerbahçe, last year’s runner-up, a sigh of relief after its draw against Çaykur Rizespor away a day earlier.
Fener’s Dutch star, Robin van Persie, a new star on the squad along with Portuguese international Louis Nani, found the net from inside the box in the 18th minute. Çaykur missed a penalty kick in the 31st minute.
However, the visitors stood solid in the second half before Thorup Kjaer, another summer signing of Fenerbahçe, scored an own goal in the 71st minute.
Fener’s new coach, Vitor Pereira, said he had to substitute Van Persie, who suffered injuries last year at Manchester United, since he was still not ready for a 90-minute strike.
“We are at the start of a voyage. We will get better,” he said.
Beşiktaş started its Super League match against Trabzonspor at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Aug. 22 in an attacking fashion, but despite some good chances, was held goalless at the end of the first half.
Trabzon’s Yusuf Erdoğan put the visitors unexpectedly in front after 53 minutes. Ricardo Quresma levelled the matter four minutes later with a great shot, only to receive his second card at the 60-minute mark and leave his team a man short. Erkan Zengin, a former Beşiktaş winger, rifled Trabzonspor back into the lead six minutes from full-time to help his team run out as 2-1 winners.
“We ironically fell behind while pushing for the lead,” said coach Şenol Güneş, a former Trabzon legend as a player and a coach. “By looking at the way we played, our performance did not deserve a loss. My players will learn from their mistakes.”
In the opening game of the league on Aug. 21, Kasımpaşa beat Istanbul rivals Başakşehir 1-0, climbing to top spot in the standings.
Kayserispor and Torku Konyaspor drew 1-1 on Aug. 22 as Akhisar Belediye won 2-0 against Mersin İdmanyurdu.
Bursaspor, who lost key players Ozan Tufan and Fernandao to Fenerbahçe, lost 0-1 against Gaziantepspor on Aug. 23.
Antalya passed Gençlerbirliği 3-1.