Lions wake up from winter slumber to overcome PaIa

Enigmatic Galatasaray, aka the Lions, staged a dramatic comeback, returning from two goals down in the first half to beat KasImpaIa 3-2 in a “mini” Istanbul derby in week 25 of the Spor Toto Super League at Recep Tayyip ErdoIan Stadium on Saturday night. Despite the hard-fought victory, Galatasaray star striker Burak YIlmaz sounded a timely warning.

“KasImpaIa is a very good team with top-class and talented players,” said Burak, who scored th

Enigmatic Galatasaray, aka the Lions, staged a dramatic comeback, returning from two goals down in the first half to beat KasImpaIa 3-2 in a andldquominiandrdquo Istanbul derby in week 25 of the Spor Toto Super League at Recep Tayyip ErdoIan Stadium on Saturday night.

Despite the hard-fought victory, Galatasaray star striker Burak YIlmaz sounded a timely warning.

andldquoKasImpaIa is a very good team with top-class and talented players,andrdquo said Burak, who scored the winning goal for Galatasaray. andldquoWe fell into a very difficult situation.

Coming from two goals down to reverse the score is very difficult, but we succeeded in doing that. However, you canand#39t always come from behind and win — and we know it,andrdquo he said.

Coach Hamza HamzaoIlu and his Lions eventually heaved a huge sigh of relief on Saturday, a week after squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Istanbul BaIakIehir That result cost the Lions the league lead and put successful coach HamzaoIlu on the receiving end of merciless criticism — at least for once.

The Lions went into Saturdayand#39s match in second place with 52 points from 24 outings, trailing BeIiktaI by two points and two more than defending champion Fenerbahandccedile.

And with Fenerbahandccedile hosting BeIiktaI in a crucial top-of-the-table clash on Sunday, Galatasaray desperately needed victory over KasImpaIa to regain the top spot — at least for 24 hours.

All pre-match forecasts on television, print and online newspapers had tipped Galatasaray as the odds-on favorite over PaIa — the nickname of KasImpaIa But things donand#39t always go as planned, especially in football.

And with 54-year-old coach Dutch coach Jan Wouters, signed on March 19, facing a baptism of fire, KasImpaIa tried to defy all andldquoexpertandrdquo predictions after referee Handuumlseyin Gandoumlandccedilek blew the whistle for kickoff at 7 pm

Woutersand#39 men fearlessly took the game to the Lions and were rewarded after just 16 minutes when Portuguese midfielder Andre Castro Pereira, or simply Castro, beat Galatasarayand#39s Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera with a powerful shot from inside the box to put his side 1-0 up.

The Lions thereafter pushed men forward fighting tooth and nail for that elusive equalizer, but it was not forthcoming.

But the predator later became the prey in the 44th as KasImpaIa, in a lightning fast counter-attack in the 43rd, caught the Lionsand#39 defense completely off-guard. Hamburg-born Turkey forward Tunay Torun made no mistake in beating Muslera with a cracker from the edge of the box to give PaIa a 2-0 lead at half-time.

h2 Burak fielded in second halfh2 HamzaoIlu had been lambasted for substituting Dortmund-born winger Yasin andOumlztekin, the best player on the pitch, in the 65th just after the second goal against Istanbul BaIakIehir in week 24. The Lions later collapsed like a house built on sand and BaIakIehir drew level.

HamzaoIlu should also face a barrage of criticism if Galatasaray had lost for benching star striker Burak YIlmaz in the first half on Saturday. The coach later brought in Burak after the break in place of winger Olcan AdIn.

The turning point in the match was in the 49th, when KasImpaIa striker Adem Banduumlyanduumlkand#39s header from a corner kick taken by Antwerp defensive midfielder Alpaslan andOumlztanduumlrk hit the woodwork and rebounded into play, thereby denying PaIa a third goal that would have killed the game.

Opportunity knocks only once, they say, and just two minutes later, captain and playmaker Selandccediluk Inan reduced the deficit for Galatasaray to 2-1, blasting the ball into the back of the net during a goalmouth scramble following a cross from the left by Yasin.

The Lions were on equal terms four minutes later (55th) as another cross by Yasin from the left found unmarked striker Umut Bulut in the box and this lanky lad only had the easy task of just tapping the ball into an empty net.

Substitute Burak put the game beyond reach in the 65th, heading a deflection off a KasImpaIa defender over keeper Ertaandccedil andOumlzbir to seal the deal: KasImpaIa 2, Galatasaray 3

HamzaoIlu tried to explain after the match why he had benched Burak.

andldquoI took a risk in fielding [injured] Burak in the second half,andrdquo he said. andldquoHad the score been in our favor, I wouldnand#39t have risked him Thank God he finished the match without [aggravating his] injury,andrdquo he added.

Also on Saturday, Rizespor routed Erciyesspor 3-0 on the road Mersin Idmanyurdu lost 1-0 to Gaziantepspor and Sivasspor stunned 2009-10 champion Bursaspor 4-1. On Friday it was: BalIkesirspor 4, EskiIehirspor 1 and Kardemir Karabanduumlkspor 0, Konyaspor 1

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman