Lions add cup trophy to league crown and 4 stars

It was indeed a magnificent season for Galatasaray, aka the Lions, as Hamza Hamzaoiluand’s men crowned a glorious season by clinching the Ziraat Turkish Cup on Wednesday night for the record 16th time after beating Bursaspor 3-2 in a thrilling final at Bursaand’s Atatandurk Stadium.
The victory also meant the Lions completed a league and cup double for the first time in 15 years. They last accomplished this feat in the 1999-2000 season under the tutelage of current national team coach Fatih Terim.
The Lions indeed have become the absolutely undisputed team of firsts in Turkish football. Crowned league champions for the 20th time on Saturday, they also became the first Turkish team to earn four stars as a star is awarded to a team for every five league championships won.
Needless to say, Galatasaray is the first and only Turkish team to have lifted a European trophy, winning the UEFA Cup (the predecessor to the Europa League) and the UEFA Super Cup in 2000. It is also the only Turkish team to have reached the semifinals of the UEFA European Champions Clubs Cup — the predecessor to the UEFA Champions League — in the 1988-89 season.
There were huge question marks as to how the Lions, who had been celebrating their league championship since Saturday in scenes of wild delight, would perform against Bursaspor in front of its intimidating home fans on Wednesday.
Furthermore keeper Fernando Muslera, arguably the best man on the Galatasaray squad, had been called up for national duty with Uruguay for the 2015 Copa America, leaving the goalkeeping job to unreliable second-choice Sinan Bolat.
and”We dreamed about this [glory], because without dreams there is no reality,and” Galatasaray coach Hamzaoilu said after the match. and”It was very difficult to pull ourselves together after the [intense] championship celebrations because a catharsis occurs after winning a title. Bursaspor played at a high tempo and widened the gap and we had a hard time adapting. But our players soon realized where they were and what they were playing for. And that made all the difference,and” he noted.
The fears, as a matter of fact, were not unfounded after referee Bandulent Yildirim blew the whistle for kickoff on Wednesday as the visibly weary Lions started the match with wobbly legs.
The Green Crocs, the nickname for Bursaspor, missed two clear chances very early in the game. Brazilian forward Jose Fernandao Viana de Santana, or Fernandao, hit the woodwork in the fifth minute, and winger Volkan ien failed to beat the keeper one-on-one in the 11th minute.
However Bursaspor broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Fernandao converted a penalty after Volkan was brought down in the box by Brazilian left wingback Alex Telles.
h2Burak here, Burak there, Burak everywhereh2
That goal woke the Lions up from their trance as they pushed men forward and were rewarded in the 40th minute when goal-machine Burak Yilmaz equalized from a corner taken by Dutchman Wesley Sneijder. Both teams went to their dressing rooms at halftime with the score level at 1-1, but more was to come from Burak in the second half.
The tall and lanky Burak put the Lions 2-1 ahead in the 48th, reconnecting a long pass from captain and playmaker Selandcuk inan into the back of the net. But the gritty Crocs fought back to equalize 10 minutes later (58th minute) through Volkan who beat Sinan with a well-taken shot in the Galatasaray box.
It was, however, Burakand’s day and he scored again just two minutes later, slotting the ball past Bursaspor keeper Harun Tekin from a difficult angle on the right flank to complete a hat trick. And the final score was: Bursaspor 2, Galatasaray 3.
Galatasaray keeper Sinan, though not comparable to Muslera, was not so bad himself as he made several saves to help his team carry the day. Some irate Bursaspor fans could not stand the defeat and ripped up stadium seats and threw them onto the pitch. Otherwise, it was an exciting end-of-season clash.
Galatasarayand’s success this season is indeed a personal vindication for Hamzaoilu, who took over a team in tatters from underachieving Italian coach Cesare Prandelli toward the end of the seasonand’s first half and managed to turn that disaantage into an aantage.
Hamzaoilu heaped praise on his players after the match. and”I congratulate Burak, he put on a good fight and scored [a hat trick]. I congratulate Sinan, all the players and all those who contributed to this success,and” he stated.
The Lions are already looking ahead to the UEFA Champions League and next season. They are also on the verge of signing Turkey midfielder Bilal Kisa from Akhisar Belediyespor.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman