Turkcell Super League – Week 18 – Friday and Saturday action
After nearly a month off because of a winter break, the Turkcell Super League got back into action with a set of matches on Friday and Saturday. The top four in the league are only separated by a point each, so now every game is crucial in the march toward the league title. The second half of the season will feature new faces, such as Gokhan Unal now being transferred to Fenerbahçe from Trabzonspor, and Lucas Neill and Jo who have been transferred to Galatasaray from Everton and Manchester City respectively (Jo is on a six month loan). With the amount of transfers in and out of the league, the league will certainly have a somewhat different look player-wise. However, the league will certainly look to be competitive over the next seventeen weeks as the drive for the title approaches its end. Week 18 got started with Fenerbahçe facing a bottom of the table Denizlispor on Friday. Three matches were set to be featured on Saturday. However, due to a snowstorm in Istanbul, only the Eskişehirspor-Manisaspor match was played. The Beşiktaş-Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor and Kasımpaşa-Bursaspor matches were postponed.
The leaders at the halfway point, Fenerbahçe, looked to continue their lead at the top of the table. With the rain and sleet falling on the Sukru Saracoglu stadium during the game, the field was muddy. They had to do without their captain and their normal right back, as both Alex de Souza and Gokhan Gonul of Fenerbahçe would miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. Denizlispor, 17th in the standings coming into the match, would start a seemingly monumental climb back out of the relegation zone. Much of the first half was dominated by Fenerbahçe as they had most of the possession of the ball. Denizlispor goalkeeper Özden Öngün kept his team in the match with crucial saves. One example was in the 43rd minute, when Andre dos Santos curled a free kick into the penalty area. Fabio Bilica’s header was on target, but Öngün had capable hands to stop the opportunity. The second half featured more Fenerbahçe attacking. A few minutes into the second half, Emre Belozoglu had a shot blocked by a Denizlispor defender. The ball ended up at the feet of Semih Senturk, but Senturk’s shot went wide right. In the 59th minute, Semih Senturk made a pass to Guiza, but his hard shot went off the crossbar and was cleared by Denizlispor. The goal-scoring would begin late in this match. In the 77th minute, Andre dos Santos curled a free kick into the Denizlispor goal to put the home team up 1-0. Denizlispor would answer back five minutes later in the 82nd minute. Souleymane Youla, recently transferred to Denizlispor from Eskişehirspor, hit home a shot from a free kick from Branimir Bajic. Youla, who came into the match as a substitute in the 80th minute, took advantage of a slip-up from Fenerbahçe defender Fabio Bilica, and powered his shot into the back of the net. Fenerbahçe would take the lead for good in the 86th minute, as Özer Hurmaci scored his first goal in a Fenerbahçe uniform. The lead-up to the goal saw the ball inching near the goal line, but Gokhan Unal saved the ball from crossing the line. Unal would pass to Guiza, and Guiza’s pass found Hurmaci for the goal. Fenerbahçe put the game out of reach in the 90th minute, as Andre dos Santos’ pass found Unal in the box. Unal’s shot was saved by Özden Öngün, but Guiza hit home the rebound to make the final score 3-1. This game wasn’t without some casualties though. Fenerbahçe will go into their match against Sivasspor next week without some key players, as Emre Belozoglu, Diego Lugano, Cristian Baroni, and Andre dos Santos will all be unavailable next week due to yellow card accumulation.
Eskişehirspor hosted Manisaspor in the only matchup on Saturday. Manisaspor came out strong at the start of the match. In the fifth minute, Mehmet Güven shot the ball just barely wide of the net. In the 12th minute, Güven’s through ball pass into the penalty box found Promise Issac. The end result of this was Issac shooting the ball wide left of the goal. The 14th minute saw Gabriel Limeira’s shot go off the post. Eskişehirspor would get one opportunity in the 22nd minute. After receiving a pass from Erkan Zengin, Koray Arslan ran about 30 meters from the right wing into the penalty area. His shot, however, ended up missing the goal by the slightest of margins. In the 30th minute, Manisaspor was on the attack again, as Yaser Yildiz crossed the ball from the left flank finding Joshua Simpson. But the Canadian’s shot would end up in the hands of Eskişehirspor goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa. The score at the halftime break was 0-0. In the 50th minute, Eskişehirspor’s Alper Potuk had his attempt on goal saved by Manisaspor goalkeeper Ilker Avcibay. The 58th minute saw Manisaspor on the attack, with Şener Aşkaroğlu making a pass to Yaser Yildiz, but Yildiz’s shot was saved by Ivesa for a corner. In the 69th minute, a pass by Caner Celep went through the Manisaspor defense, and ended up with Adem Sari. Sari’s shot would hit the post, but Sari headed in the rebound to put Eskişehirspor on the board, 1-0. One last chance for Manisaspor came in the 88th minute, when Aşkaroğlu cross the ball into the penalty area from the right flank. Mehmet Nas took the shot, but Ivesa came up with a big save to keep Eskişehirspor in the lead. Eskişehirspor held on to win 1-0.