Lions all but qualified for Cup final after rout of Sivas

Hamza Hamzaoilu’s Galatasaray earned a commanding advantage for the finals of the Ziraat Turkish Cup after clinching a 4-1 victory over Sivasspor at Turk Telekom Arena on Thursday evening.

The second-leg match will be played in Sivas on May 19. The winner of the semi-final series will face the winner of the Fenerbhace-Bursaspor matchup. John Utaka opened the scoring of the night, and Sabri Sarioilu scored with his left foot to tie the deal. Back from a long-term injury, Felipe Melo gave a 2-1 advantage to the Lions. Dutchman Wesley Sneijder and Selcuk inan increased the margin with their goals in the second half.

Hamzaoilu said after the match that his side won an advantageous score ahead of the second-leg match and congratulated his players. He underscored that Galatasaray aims to finish this season with two trophies: the Turkish Cup and the Spor Toto Super League title. quotAs a team, everybody trains hard. We are fully focused. Hopefully, we’ll reach our goals on both fronts,quot he said.

The coach praised Sabri, who was declared persona non grata by Hamzaoilu’s precessor Cesare Prandelli, and said he scored a beautiful goal with his left foot. quotHe surely has shortcomings like everyone else. He is an important power for us. His experiences make us stronger,quot the coach added.

Sivasspor coach Sergen Yalcin was upset after the match and also sharp-tongued in his post-game remarks. He lashed out at the referee of the match, ilker Meral, and argued that he favored Galatasaray in order to secure a final of Istanbul clubs in the Turkish Cup. quotWe definitely didn’t deserve this score,quot Yalcin said and added: quotIf we were able to make it 2-2 in turning points, this game could end very differently. It’s hard to compensate for this score. Our chances for the final are quite low now.”

Important minutes from the match

Visiting Sivasspor started the match offensively. Brazilian defender Cicinho crossed the ball from outside the right edge of the Galatasaray box to the far post where Utaka met the ball and sent it smoothly inside the net to make it 1-0 in the ninth minute. Galatasaray responded in the 32nd minute as Sabri, as the player is known, faced the goal behind the arc outside of the box and made a powerful left-footed shot past goalkeeper Ertuirul Taikiran to equalize the deal: 1-1.

Three minutes later Melo was positioned well inside the Sivasspor box to meet Sneijder’s cross from the left corner and handed the hosts the 2-1 lead.

The visiting side missed a glaring chance to tie the match at the beginning of the second half. In the 49th minute, Burhan Eier dribbled the ball past Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, but his cross beat the post. Utaka made a fruitless effort to finish what Eier started and sent the ball out. Utaka had a more serious attempt at a goal in the 56th minute after receiving a pass from Aatif Chahechouhe, but Muslera repelled the attack.

Sneijder made one of his spectacular free kicks to increase the lead to two after Manuel Da Costa tripped Umut Bulut near outside the right-hand side of the box in the 63th minute and made it 3-1. Captain Selcuk wrapped up the match in the 78th minute after the referee awarded the hosts with a penalty: 4-1.