Turkcell Super League – week 18 – Sunday action

The opening weekend of the second half of the season for the Turkcell Super League came to a close Sunday.  With Fenerbahçe consolidating their lead at the top, Galatasaray needed to win to keep pace with their cross-town Istanbul rivals.  Kayserispor looked to keep within striking distance of the top spot that they held for two weeks in the first half of the season.  Roger Lemerre made his debut as Ankaragücü head coach, along with former Turkish national team, Fenerbahçe, and Gençlerbirliği player Umit Ozat as his assistant.  Trabzonspor, although highly unlikely to break their championship drought this season, looked to at least get into contention for a Europa League spot as they took on Sivasspor.

Roger Lemerre was hired by Ankaragücü in the winter break to improve the fortunes of the capital-based club.  Their opponents this week, Diyarbakirspor, were only a point ahead of them in the standings.  Ankaragücü were the first to attack in the 7th minute, with Darius Vassel’s attempt on goal curling over the bar and out of bounds.  Diyarbakirspor was on the attack in the 16th minute, as Thierry Tazemeta passed to Erhan Senturk on the right flank.  Senturk ran into the box and shot the ball right into Ankaragücü’s goalkeeper, Serkan Kirintili.  Kirintili’s block would end that attack.  In the 19th minute, Ankaragücü had another chance as Aydin Karabulut’s free kick into the box was headed by Koray Çölgecen towards goal.  But the ball was saved and ended up out for a corner.  Very little action occurred in the first half and the halftime score ended up 0-0.  The second half started with Diyarbakirspor on the offensive.  In the 47th minute, Bruce Djite’s attempt on goal barely missed the left post and went out.  In the 66th minute, Diyarbakirspor’s Razundara Tjikuzu (recently transferred from Trabzonspor) shot the ball low from the top of the penalty arc.  Kirintili came up with two saves, one from Tjikuzu’s shot, and Djite’s attempt from the rebound.  Tjikuzu would have another attempt on goal in the 71st minute for Diyarbakirspor.  His curling shot from the left flank went off the post, initially confusing Kirintili, and the resulting rebound was cleared out for a throw-in.  Ankaragücü had an attempt on goal in the 80th minute, with Adem Koçak’s shot going wide left of the goal.  The match would end as a 0-0 draw.

Kayserispor looked like they were in contention for the title going into the winter break.  The team surprised many by leading the Super League for two weeks late in the first half of the season.  Now in fourth place, Kayserispor looked to get off to a good start to the second half against Gençlerbirliği.  In the 21st minute, Franco Cangele’s corner from the right ended up being headed by Aydin Toscali barely off target.  In the 29th minute, Gençlerbirliği started a counterattack from a Kayserispor corner.         Burhan Eşer received a pass and advanced the ball deep into Kayserispor’s half.  His through ball pass was intended for Hurşit Meriç.  But Kayserispor defender Durmuş Bayram got to the ball first and cleared the danger.  The clearance went to Alioum Saidou, who passed to Mehmet Eren.  Eren then attacked from the right flank, advancing the ball near the goal line.  His cross found the head of Ariza Makukula, but the attempt on goal was saved by Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge as Kulbilge deflected the ball over the crossbar.  The resulting corner, coming in the 31st minute, was cleared by the Gençlerbirliği defense.  But the ball ended up at the feet of Gökhan Emreciksin, and the Kayserispor midfielder’s long range shot went wide of the goal.  Burhan Eşer had another opportunity for Gençlerbirliği in the 42nd minute, but his curling shot on goal was saved by Kayserispor goalkeeper Gökhan Değirmenci.  The first half ended without any goals.  The second half would see goals, however.  In the 69th minute, Kayserispor’s Serdar Kesimal mistakenly passed the ball to Gençlerbirliği player Labinot Harbuzi.  Harbuzi then passed a through ball to Burhan Eşer.  Eşer kept his shot low and scored to put Gençlerbirliği up 1-0.  Gençlerbirliği almost had their second goal by Eşer in the 78th minute.  Kahe’s through ball found Eşer, but the resulting ball hit the post and was cleared by the Kayserispor defense.  In the 80th minute, Kayserispor had another opportunity on goal, as Franco Cangele’s free kick just outside the penalty box was deflected off the wall.  The ball ended up at the feet of Makukula, but was saved by Kulbilge.  Gençlerbirliği looked like they were going to hang on for the win.  But in the second minute of stoppage time, Cangele’s cross from the right flank found the head of Makukula.  The Super League-leading goal scorer headed the ball into the back of the net to tie the match, and make the final score 1-1.

It can be said that both Trabzonspor and Sivasspor have had disappointing seasons so far.  Both clubs have had to change coaches.  Both looked to contend for the league title this year.   While Trabzonspor look to at least climb into a Europa League spot, Sivasspor have the task to climb out of the relegation zone.  It was a far cry from when Sivasspor looked to be the first team to win the league title outside of the “Big Four” the past two seasons.  Both teams wanted to get the second half of the season off to a high note.  Trabzonspor almost scored first in the 11th minute.  Ömer Aysan Barış’ cross went past Umut Bulut and ended up at the feet of Engin Baytar.  With an open net in front of him, Baytar’s shot went off the crossbar and was cleared.  Trabzonspor would strike first in the 21st minute.  Engin Baytar’s pass into the area found Alanzinho.  Alanzinho found Umut Bulut, and Bulut opened the scoring putting Trabzonspor up 1-0.  In the 29th minute, Sivasspor midfielder Ferhat Bikmaz tripped Baytar in the box, resulting in a penalty for Trabzonspor.  Gustavo Colman proceeded to double Trabzonspor’s lead to 2-0.  The 32nd minute saw Alanzinho advanced the ball from the right flank, and passed a through ball to Baytar.  The resulting pass to Bulut ended up in the hands of Sivasspor goalkeeper Akin Vardar.  Sivasspor would not be down and out yet.  In the 36th minute, Abdurrahman Dereli’s pass from the center circle found Erman Kılıç just outside the box.  Kılıç advanced the ball to near the goal line and intended to make a crossing pass.  Instead, the ball deflected off Selçuk Inan and into the net to put Sivasspor on the board.  The halftime score ended up with Trabzonspor having the 2-1 advantage.  Trabzonspor had plenty of opportunities in the second half to regain their two goal lead.  In the 55th minute, Baytar’s pass into the box found Serkan Balci, but his shot went wide of goal.  The 76th minute saw Bulut’s cross from the right flank headed out over the bar by Inan.  In the 78th minute, Inan’s free kick went into the box and found the head of Giray Kaçar.  But his header went off the post, and was cleared by the Sivasspor defense.  One minute later, Ömer Aysan Barış provided a long ball that was headed towards the penalty box by Inan.  Umut Bulut provided the finish to put Trabzonspor up 3-1.  The 89th minute saw Inan take a free kick that found the head of Kaçar.  The header went for naught.  Trabzonspor picked up the three points with three goals in a 3-1 victory.

Galatasaray decided to get some help for their scoring and the defense.  With Milan Baros out until mid-March because of the injury suffered during the Fenerbahçe derby, Galatasaray signed Jo from Manchester City.  Jo was previously on loan to Everton and looks like a good pickup.  Lucas Neill, previously under contract to Everton, was also signed as Galatasaray looked to improve the defense.  With an injury-prone Gökhan Zan, Neill should be a good compliment to Servet Cetin as a central defender.  Neill got the immediate start while Jo was on the bench as Galatasaray took on Gaziantepspor.  A snowstorm hit Istanbul over the weekend, so the pitch at the Ali Sami Yen stadium had to be cleared.  The snow continued to fall at kickoff and throughout the match.  Much of the first half was dominated by Galatasaray.  In the 3rd minute, Caner Erkin’s cross was headed out by Shabani Nonda.  In the 31st minute, Elano’s shot from outside the penalty area barely missed the target.  Galatasaray got an advanatage when Gaziantepspor’s Ahmet Ari got sent off in the 33rd minute for his second yellow card for dissent.  Galatasaray had their best chance in the first half in the 43rd minute.  Arda Turan moved past two defenders and his shot on goal was saved.  The rebound came to Nonda, but Nonda attempt saw the ball trickle out.  The first half ended with a 0-0 score.  In the 59th minute, Caner Erkin was tripped in the box, leading to a penalty kick for Galatasaray.  On the ensuing kick, Nonda’s attempt was saved by Gaziantepspor goalkeeper Mahmut Bezgin.  Elano would be replaced at the 63rd minute by Jo, giving Jo his first minutes in a Galatasaray uniform.  Galatasaray would find the back of the net in the 75th minute.  Arda Turan’s free kick was headed home by Mustafa Sarp.  Jo had his first attempt to score in a Galatasaray uniform in the 80th minute, but he headed Uğur Uçar’s cross out for a goal kick.  Galatasaray went on to win the match 1-0, remaining a point behind league leaders Fenerbahçe.