The Black Eagles and the Yellow Canaries will be slugging it out in week four at BJK Fiyapı İnönü Stadium on Thursday. Cash-strapped Beşiktaş may have thrown in the towel but Fenerbahçe, who currently trail leader Galatasaray by two points, is determined to take the Super League championship race down to the wire
And with this victory, the Yellow Canaries increased their unbeaten league run in Kadıköy to 42 matches -- 35 wins and seven draws. Fenerbahçe was last beaten at Şükrü Saracoğlu by Bursaspor in week 22 of the 2009-10 Super League on Feb. 22, 2010 and Aykut Kocaman's men have not tasted defeat ever since. It is also worthy to note that Bursaspor went on to clinch its maiden league title that same season.
Fenerbahçe is the only side in the four-team Super Final playoffs with a perfect record. The Canaries beat Trabzonspor 2-0 at home in the opener on April 14, defeated archrival Galatasaray 2-1 two Sundays ago and won by the same score over Beşiktaş on Sunday.
The Canaries on Sunday faced a must-win situation against the Black Eagles, nickname of Beşiktaş, because leader Galatasaray had won 4-2 away against Trabzonspor the day before to open up a five-point gap at the top.
The winless and pointless Black Eagles, who had lost all their two Super Final matches prior to Sunday, were also desperate for victory to appease their angry fans and to also strive to finish third and play in the UEFA Europa League next season, instead of fourth and taking part in another playoff to qualify for this second-tier European competition.
Goalless first half
The Eagles therefore started Sunday's game very seriously -- matching the Yellow Canaries head-to-head and shoulder-to-shoulder in the first half. And depleted Fenerbahçe -- without injured Brazilian captain-playmaker Alex de Souza, Senegal striker Moussa Sow and suspended lefty Emre Belözoğlu -- could not dominate the game. And though both sides had several half chances, it was no surprise that the first half ended scoreless.
After the break, both teams tried to increase the tempo of the game and this favored the Eagles, who were rewarded in the 54th minute when defender Egemen Korkmaz broke the deadlock -- scoring from a goalmouth scramble after a corner taken by Portugal all-rounder Manuel Fernandes.
This goal awoke the Canaries from their trance, so to speak, as they pushed more men forward looking for the equalizer. They got it three minutes later (57th) as a free kick taken by Slovakia striker Miroslav Stoch hit the back of the Beşiktaş net. It is also worth mentioning that it was Stoch who scored the match-winner against Galatasaray the Sunday before last.
Egemen: From hero to zero
Beşiktaş hero Egemen was to turn villain in the 83rd minute when he scored on his own goal, heading a Stoch corner into his own net to give the Canaries a 2-1 victory and maximum points.
Beaten Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu talked about ifs and buts after the match. “If only we had not conceded the equalizer so soon,” he said. “We couldn't hold on for 10 minutes. If we were able to defend our lead for up to 10 minutes, then things would have been very different,” he lamented.
The Eagles and the Canaries will be slugging it out again in week four at BJK Fiyapı İnönü Stadium on Thursday. Cash-strapped Beşiktaş, which has not paid its players for months, may have thrown in the towel. Not so, however, with the Yellow Canaries, who currently trail leader Galatasaray by two points and are determined to take the Super League championship race down to the wire.
“An extraordinary victory and I am very happy that we won,” said Fenerbahçe coach Kocaman. “We will be playing for outright victory against Beşiktaş on Thursday. And if deemed necessary, substitute keepers Mert or Recep will be brought to replace first-choice keeper Volkan Demirel, who was injured in the first half [and required stitches to the cut in his knee, but nonetheless played until the very end],” he added.