Pride, passion and fascinating stories from Asia Minor
It was unusually comfortable, there was no sound of fingers on keyboards and I was surrounded by celebrities. When you swap Press Box for VIP box, this is the norm.
Now back to reality, the blog’s weekend of stadium hopping is over and I’m back in front of my keyboard to tell you all about it.
Friday night was Derby night. Matches between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce are never ‘normal’ and this was to be no exception.
Once in the Arena and ‘seated’ (perched on the arm rest of a seat due to overcrowding in the box), it was show time.
Seizing on the visitors’ slow start, Cimbom took the lead through Colin-Kazim Richards.
The Ex-Fenerbahce midfielder slammed home after Milan Baros’s shot was blocked by Volkan and, showing the class and conduct of a Sunday league player, ran straight to his former club’s bench to celebrate under their noses.
Any closer and he would have been sat on the bench...feeling a sense of Déjà-Vu at the same time maybe.
Cimbom’s hard work in keeping the midfield tight was paying off and Aykut Kocaman threw caution to the wind, withdrawing Selcuk Sahin for Semih Senturk at half time.
With another man for the defence to mark, Alex De Souza began to find more space to manoeuvre and suddenly Fenerbahce began to tick.
Sure enough, as the clocked ticked on to 76 minutes, Fenerbahce were level. Lucas Neill was penalised for handball and Alex floated in an exquisite free kick which Semih had no problems heading into the back of the net.
The Turkish striker, with nine goals to his name, has been labelled the ‘emergency goal-scorer’ after making a habit of coming on to score crucial goals. This could prove to be the most crucial.
From there on in both sides had chances to win the match. Arda Turan looked lively and twice got behind the Fener back line but, reminiscent of their indifferent season, it was to be the visitors who left the TT Arena with all three points.
With just minutes left, Gokhan Gonul raced down the right flank gesturing to his team mates to fill the box and, as his cross floated in, Alex rose perfectly to head in his 19th goal of the season.
It was the last straw for the home fans who swiftly headed for the exits without so much as a ‘boo’, leaving the players in blue and yellow to celebrate with the 3,000 travelling fans.
On Saturday, the blog set out on a trip to the Inonu Stadium.
Besiktas, having accepted the resignation of Bernd Schuster this week, were under the guidance of former assistant manager Tayfur Havutcu for the visit of Kayserispor.
Havutcu captained the side which won a league and cup double in the clubs centenary year and was greeted by a large banner reading ‘Captain of our 100th year, fly the Eagles back to the top’.
It was a touching start and although it took them 45 minutes to warm up, Besiktas were certainly flying in the second period.
A goal down at the break, Hugo Almeida headed in the equaliser just moments after coming on.
Moments later Fabian Ernst then put the home side ahead before Ricardo Quaresma scored the goal of the game with a trademark ‘Trivela’ shot.
Kayseri’s late penalty was merely a consolation with Quaresma again setting up Almeida for his second and Besiktas’s fourth in injury time.
It was a much needed morale boost for the club who will be looking to the domestic cup in order to qualify for Europe - a must if they are to keep the likes of Guti, Quaresma and Simao happy.
On Sunday, Trabzonspor came back from a goal down to keep their title hopes very much alive.
On a soaked pitch in Ankara, Genclerbirligi went into the break with a 1-0 advantage after Cem Can’s long range shot fooled goalkeeper Tolga.
However, as they have done so many times this season, Trabzon rallied to level the scores early in the second half through Giray’s header.
Senol Gunes introduced Alanzinho at half time and the tiny Brazilian, repeating his feat of two weeks ago at Manisa, sealed the three points with just minutes left to play.
Trabzonspor seem in no mood to let Fenerbahce out of their sights with both teams neck a neck on 60 points.
I never thought I’d say this but thank heavens for the international break.
We can finally take a moment to breathe before it all gets going again!
Galatasaray may have set the record for the loudest decibel reading at a sports stadium but they also equalled an unwanted record in the process. Their 13th loss of the campaign means they are just one more blank away from holding the record of the most games lost in a season between Istanbul’s ‘Big Three’.
With a potential stadium closure looming after a glass bottle was thrown onto the pitch, it will take a huge effort if this is to be avoided. Only the three teams in the relegation zone have lost more games this season...
Breaking news: Galatasaray have sacked manager Gheorghe Hagi after just five months in charge.
RESULTS Galatasaray 1–2 Fenerbahce, Besiktas 4–2 Kayserispor, Kasimpasa 1–0 Manisaspor, Bucaspor 0–4 Sivasspor, Genclerbirligi 1–2 Trabzonspor, Bursaspor 0–0 Ankaragucu, Gaziantepspor 4–1 Istanbul B.B, Eskisehirspor 1–0 Karabukspor, Konyaspor 0–0 Antalyaspor
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