Lions edge closer to title with trademark slight-margin win

Galatasaray, aka the Lions, won again by the slightest of margins for the fourth time in five consecutive Spor Toto Super League games, pipping visiting Ankara side Genclerbirliii 1-0 in week 32 at the Turk Telekom Arena on Saturday night to maintain possession of first place and cement its championship chances with only two weeks to go.

The match between title contender Beiiktai and Torku Konyaspor and caykur Rizespor against Akhisar Belediyespor on Monday will conclude this week’s action.

A goal from Galatasaray’s Dutch striker Wesley Sneijder in the 67th minute was the only thing that separated the two teams on Saturday, the 30-year-old beating Gencler keeper Ferhat Kaplan with a well-placed shot from outside the box after collecting a pass from co-striker Burak Yilmaz.

Winning is everything — especially for the Super League championship contenders — and the margin of victory has been relegated to secondary importance as the 2014-15 season heads into the homestretch.

The simple reason is that a one-goal margin fetches three points just as well as 10. And Super League leader Galatasaray has decided to choose the simplest possible path in the last five games. Apart from the 2-0 away win over Akhisar Belediyespor in week 29, the Lions won the other four by single-goal margins.

They beat Gaziantepspor 1-0 at home in week 28, won by the same score at home to Torku Konyaspor in week 30 when they took over the league leadership, then defeated Mersin idmanyurdu away in week 31 and Genclerbirliii in week 32 on Saturday by the exact same score.

Nothing good comes easy

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” says King Henry in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Consequently, the Lions had a multitude of problems going into the game against Genclerbirliii and during the match itself.

Uruguay star keeper Fernando Muslera, who has single-handedly won many matches for the Lions this season, was suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards. It was anyone’s guess how second-choice keeper Sinan Bolat — who, except in Turkish Cup matches, has hardly been tested this season — was going to fare on Saturday.

Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou, a regular starter, was sidelined by injury. To compound matters, coach Hamza Hamzaoilu had excluded lefty Emre colak and Portugal winger Bruma from the 18-man squad for insubordination.

And the match had hardly begun when midfielder Selcuk inan, one of the backbones of the team, limped off the pitch with a strained muscle. Without Muslera, Chedjou, Selcuk, Emre and Bruma, the Lions certainly faced a very long Saturday night.

But Hamza’s men managed to weather the storm. After a goalless first half, the Lions upped the tempo in the second and bagged three precious points with what has become their trademark 1-0 win.

It may be worth mentioning that substitute Hamit Altintop was himself substituted in the 85th minute for lefty Olcan Adin. Club doctor Yener ince said after the match that he and his team are making every effort to get the injured players fit before this weekend’s home derby against Beiiktai.

Coach Hamzaoilu looked a very relieved man after the tense match against Gencler. “It was indeed a match played at a high tempo with fast-paced attacks,” he said.

“It was incumbent upon us to win and we expected a belated goal. “This is the summary of the [Saturday] game. Striving to score induced stress in the players as that [winning] goal looked more and more elusive. But my players were determined to win and showed grit and guts. I congratulate them all and the Genclerbirliii players as well,” he added.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Balikesirspor stunned visiting Kardemir Karabukspor 4-2, a defeat that all but put the final nail in the relegation coffin of the Black Sea side and gave the victor a prayer of survival. Mid-table Medicana Sivasspor and Kasimpaia shared the spoils after a 1-1 draw.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman