Lions eye league title in Gencler clash after another Eagle draw

Galatasaray is well on its way to a Spor Toto Super League championship after Beiiktai dropped points for the second consecutive week, but it must first overcome the team that held it to a draw when they last met in Ankara and it must do without the aid of a critical player, top keeper Fernando Muslera.

The Uruguay goalkeeper pulled out all the stops in Galatasaray’s last victory over an aggressive Mersin idman Yurdu. Unfortunately his acrobatic saves were capped by a last-minute yellow card that leaves him suspended for this week’s home match against Genclerbirliii.

“Muslera is an important player and he is showing himself. He is suspended, but Eray [iican] and Sinan [Bolat] are doing well and they are going to put on a similar performance as long as Muslera is gone,” coach Hamza Hamzaoilu said after the match.

The two sides last met in Ankara’s 19 Mayis Stadium in December, where an early Emre colak goal put the Lions ahead of the hosts. Gencler came back in the second half and the goal was scored by ex-Galatasaray forward Bogdan Stancu.

Genclerbirliii is missing center mid Doia Kaya, Serbia defender Dusko Toiic, German-born forward Guido Kocer and midfielder Ozgur ileri to injury, but Stancu will remain a threat.

Fortunately the Lions have a cushion, however small it is. If they can keep on the top of their game for the remaining three weeks, then they will be champions. Fenerbahce dropped two points in a draw with relegation-bound Kayseri Erciyesspor to widen the gap to three points between it and Galatasaray. Beiiktai has dropped points two matches in a row and is four points down.

Second draw

After drawing 1-1 with Gaziantepspor in week 30, the Black Eagles of Beiiktai failed to overcome Akhisar Belediye Genclik ve Spor on Thursday evening. Beiiktai was in trouble by the 14th minute, when Mehmet Akyuz put the host one goal up. The forward flicked a header past keeper Gunay Guvenc.

Despite shots by Canada defender Atiba Hutchinson and pressure by the likes of Argentine midfielder Jose Sosa, Akhisar kept the lead until the 54th minute, when Senegal striker Demba Ba equalized with a header of his own. Tolgay Arslan kicked a well-placed corner kick into the Akhisar box, where Beiiktai’s talismanic striker needed only to redirect it past keeper Oiuz Dailaroilu.

Akhisar was just as likely to pull ahead again as Beiiktai was to come back with a win. Gunay blocked a Lomana LuaLua shot to Brazilian striker Bruno Mezenga, who shot again. The third-string keeper deflected the Congolese forward’s shot out. Mehmet Akyuz had more attempts but was also denied.

The Eagles’ Croatian coach Slaven Bilic was disappointed with the match in general. “It is a fair result, they deserved a point. We started well, but after they scored a goal we played the whole game like it was the last five minutes,” Bilic said.

“We were simply too nervous and we did not pass the ball well, so we did not deserve to win this game. And it looks like we are not psychologically ready because it has happened two times now in a crucial point in the season where everything is in your hands,” he added.

Two draws in a row at this stage not only destroys morale but also ambition. Beiiktai has a chance at the championship on paper but in reality Galatasaray will almost certainly be champion if it wins against Gencler this Saturday.

The match kicks off at 8:00 p.m. at Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul. At 7:00, Sivasspor takes on Kasimpaia at home, while two probable relegation-bound teams, Balikesirspor and Kardemir Karabukspor, will meet at 4:00.