Canaries on verge of title glory after crushing Antalya

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- A brace by Michal Kadlec in the middle of the match was just icing on the cake for Fenerbahçe as it soared to a 4-1 victory over Medical Park Antalyaspor and almost secured its championship title.

The three points the Yellow Canaries earned in week 29 of the Spor Toto Super League put them at 66 points to nearest rivals BeIiktaI’s 54 and defending champion Galatasaray’s 53. The two other Istanbul-based giants both dropped points this weekend, Galatasaray losing to Sivasspor and BeIiktaI drawing at Torku Konyaspor.

This puts Fenerbahçe in a position to secure the title with four matches to go, if it manages to defeat BeIiktaI at Ataturk Olympic Stadium next week.

“Anything can happen in football. We are not officially champion so we have to continue working,” Kadlec said after the match. “We have a derby in a week. We are going to prepare as well as possible and become champion at the end of the season,” he added.

No coming back

Given Fenerbahçe’s nearly flawless form this season, no one expected Antalyaspor — which is in danger of relegation to the PTT League 1 next year — to have much of a chance on the Canaries’ turf in Istanbul.

But Fuat Çapa’s men did attempt a comeback after Fenerbahçe midfielder Caner Erkin opened scoring in the 21st minute with a dead ball just outside the goal box. He curved the ball into the right corner, sliding it just beyond keeper Hakan ArIkan’s fingertips.

Ten minutes later, Isaac Promise equalized for Antalya. The Nigerian forward got a diving header on a free kick taken by Brazilian forward Tita and tipped it past Volkan Demirel.

Antalya’s hope for some points was crushed seven minutes later when an attack by Senegal forward Moussa Sow was foiled, leading to a corner kick. Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles sent the ball across the goal, where countryman Bruno Alves used his head to place it in front of the net. A quick tap by Cameroon striker Pierre Webo set the stage for Czech Republic defender Kadlec to bounce it into the net.

Two more

Though many attempts were made, further goals did not come until the 89th minute. Again, Meireles started play with a corner, this time sending it across the net. ArIkan jumped and tapped the ball out of the air, but Kadlec caught up with it as it bounced to the edge of the goal box. He turned and shot it past an unprepared defense for goal number three.

The final goal came just after defender Serkan BalcI was shown his second yellow for bringing Meireles down outside the box. Netherlands midfielder Dirk Kuyt converted a pass to a scoring opportunity when he delivered it to Sow before the defense could react. One-on-one with ArIkan, Sow effortlessly slid the ball into the net.

Fenerbahçe similarly makes leading the league by 12 points effortless, but although it is unthinkable that another team would surpass the Canaries, coach Ersun Yanal refrained from celebrating.

“There are five matches ahead of us, one is a derby,” he said. “Of course, if we win, we fully intend to celebrate in front of our fans at the Rize match. Maybe [the championship] will not be decided until the last match, maybe it will be sooner — that’s football,” he added.

Also on Sunday, Kayseri Erciyesspor managed to hold GençlerbirliIi to a 0-0 draw away, earning one more point to help keep the club out of the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Trabzonspor drew EskiIehirspor 2-2 away to stay in fourth place.

(CihanToday’s Zaman) C