The Lions, the better team in all aspects, duly won 4-2 to seal a berth in the UEFA Champions League next season and at the same time put the final nail in the coffin of Trabzonspor's championship hopes. And to be fair to the Black Sea Storm, the distracted players may be asking, what on earth are we playing for?
It was expected to be a cracker of a match at Avni Aker, but Galatasaray dominated from the beginning until the end, making the match look more or less like a practice session.
“We started the Super Final with a nine-point lead and were down to two points after two matches,” said Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim. “The victory at Trabzonspor has helped us to make amends for the home defeat in week two. All in all, we have finished the week as leaders and that has boosted our confidence,” he underlined.
And with Trabzon goal machine Burak Yılmaz, who underwent surgery several weeks ago, not even included in the 18-man squad, it was hard to imagine how the Storm would survive the wrath of the Lions, let alone win.
Lions throw everything they have at Storm
In the first four minutes, the Lions already had at least three attempts on goal. It was a horrendous performance by Trabzonspor, to say the least. And judging from the way Trabzonspor was outclassed and outscored 2-0 away by Fenerbahçe in their Super Final in İstanbul on April 14, one cannot stop wondering whether the current Trabzonspor is still the rampaging Black Sea Storm of yesteryear or merely a Black Sea breeze.
The writing was already on the wall after 20 minutes, when attacking midfielder Selçuk İnan, a former Trabzonspor player, curled a superb free kick past the Trabzon defensive wall into the back of the net to give Galatasaray a 1-0 lead.
Striker Necati Ateş headed home a Selçuk cross two minutes later to double the score for the Lions, and the same Necati was on target in the 42nd to tap in a poor shot by Ivory Coast winger Emmanuel Eboue, acquired from Arsenal this season, to make it 3-0 at halftime.
After the interval, an extraordinarily relaxed Galatasaray almost allowed Trabzonspor back into the game in the 60th, when Argentine midfielder Gustavo Colman scored to reduce the difference to 3-1.
But exactly a minute later (61st), man-of-the-match Eboue made it 4-1 when he chested down a long free kick by Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi and raced past two Trabzonspor players before whacking the ball past Trabzonspor keeper Tolga Zengin. Colman converted a penalty for Trabzon in the 85th to make the final score 4-2, advantage Galatasaray.
The match is over, but a controversy over a penalty continues to rumble on. Trabzonspor left Olcan Adın, who was “brought down” in the Galatasaray box, said he does not think it was a penalty. And Galatasaray Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera, who “felled” goal-bound Olcan, also said it was definitely not a penalty.
But some alarmists in the local sports media are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. They claim the penalty decision was right and that referee Bülent Yıldırım should have showed Muslera red, not yellow.
The two teams will be meeting again at İstanbul's Türk Telekom Arena on Wednesday, and coach Fatih Terim has warned his men against complacency. “Trabzonspor is not and has never been an easy team. Therefore, our match on Wednesday will not be easy. I am happy that we took home the maximum points in Trabzon,” he added.
For his part, Trabzonspor coach Şenol Güneş rued the defensive mistakes. “We made too many mistakes, mistakes we should have avoided. The first two goals [by Galatasaray] came from unnecessary fouls. We will strive to improve in the matches ahead,” he noted.