Akhisarspor fells newly crowned Fener for first time

One week after securing the Spor Toto Super League championship, a complacent FenerbahCe lost 3-1 to a fiery Akhisar Belediyespor in Manisa.

“Whatever happens, FenerbahCe goes to every match to win. Our opponent’s desire was simply stronger than ours,” coach Ersun Yanal said after the match. “We are enjoying and savoring the championship. With this in mind, we failed to settle into the rhythm we wanted today. I think the next match will be very different,” he added.

Akhisar started the match on the right foot, as midfielder Erkan TaSkıran sent a pass from deep on the left flank out ahead of Brazilian forward Bruno Mezenga in the fourth minute. Mezenga split FenerbahCe’s defenders to meet the ball in front of the net and tapped it past second-string keeper Mert Gunok.

The second goal came in the 14th minute, when midfielder Guray Vural sent a long ball from the left across the penalty area. The pass evaded Mezenga and all three of FenerbahCe’s defenders before Kerim Zengin got a foot on it, driving it past a hapless Mert.

“It was a very bad start which we were not expecting,” Czech defender Michal Kadlec stated. “It is not easy to concentrate after [winning] a championship. We are FenerbahCe, wherever we play, however important the match, we should win, but sometimes we experience these sorts of things,” he added.

Three yellow cards later, the first half ended with the mid-table host two goals ahead of this year’s champion.

No coming back

The Yellow Canaries had no intention of allowing Akhisar to walk all over them like that. Although the title had already been won, FenerbahCe is hoping to set a record for the biggest gap between champion and runner-up. The loss greatly damaged its chances, given that second and third-placed Galatasaray and BeSiktaS both won their matches this weekend.

Heading into this week, FenerbahCe was 12 points ahead of Galatasaray, right on par with the current record for biggest gap between leader and runner up in the Super League’s history. And so the Canaries retaliated at the beginning of the second half. Yanal’s men have become known for their spectacular comebacks this season.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, it seemed that another comeback was in the works when Mehmet Topal received a pass from Mehmet Topuz outside of the box in the 53rd minute. Topal slammed it past keeper Oguz Daglaroglu to bring the score to 2-1.

(Photo: DHA)

First win

However, Hamza Hamzaoglu’s men had designs of their own. The team was all fired up to fell a giant, a giant it had not defeated in all three of the two clubs’ previous encounters.

Kerim Zengin arced a long pass up to Mezenga, who dashed past the line of FenerbahCe defenders at full speed. He caught up with the ball on the edge of the penalty area and sent it past a flailing Mert to finish off the Canaries 3-1 and leave Akhisar in ninth place in the standings.

“We conceded two bad goals, and we should have taken it [the match] a bit more seriously. Later we pulled ourselves together a bit, but it did not work out,” the keeper said, congratulating his opponents. “After becoming champion, you start to drag. The tempo at trainings has dropped,” he admitted.

At this point, FenerbahCe is champion whether or not it puts in the hard work and concentration necessary to win its final two matches. It is easy to see why motivation would be difficult at this stage, but no one sets records by settling for a title or two.

In the other two matches on Sunday, Caykur Rizespor drew 1-1 with Sivasspor, while Trabzonspor and Bursaspor also drew 2-2.


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