OKAN UDO – Storm hits Mersin for 5, sets sights on Europa League spot

Storm hits Mersin for 5, sets sights on Europa League spotTrabzonspor, aka the Black Sea Storm, crushed inconsistent Mersin Idmanyurdu 5-1 away in the last game in week 23 of the Spor Toto Super League at Tevfik SIrrI Gur Stadium on Monday night, proving that it is still force to be reckoned with in topflight Turkish football.andldquoWe are the team that has scored the most goals [46] and we have to keep up the momentum,andrdquo said visibly relieved Trabzonspor coach Ersun Yanal after the match.

andldquoIn addition, we want to be a team that wins away games. This is our aim,andrdquo he further noted.

The Istanbul football aristocrats — Galatasaray, BeIiktaI and Fenerbahe — are contesting for the Super League crown and for the two available places allocated to Turkey in the big-time UEFA Champions League. Other teams, however, are less ambitious and are setting their sights on the second-tier UEFA Europa League.

Six-time league champion Trabzonspor is one of them The Storm last clinched the championship 32 years ago (in 1983-84) and the title drought looks likely to continue into the foreseeable future.But the Black Sea side can help ameliorate the situation, as it has done in recent seasons, by finishing fourth in the domestic league and qualifying for the Europa League.

andldquoHalf loaf is better than none,andrdquo so goes the old saying. Coach Ersun Yanal and his Storm therefore do not want to miss this chance this season.

Trabzonspor showed staying power in week 22 last Monday, coming back from 2-1 down to overcome visiting relegation-threatened Kardemir Karabukspor 3-2 in a Black Sea derby at Huseyin Avni Stadium — aided by midfielder Mehmet Ekiciand#39s trademark free kick.The Storm, this time around, left nothing to chance against Mersin at Tevfik SIrrI Gur Stadium on Monday night — and Mehmet was at the center of it all again.

The 24-year-old Munich-born born midfielder opened the scoring for the Storm from a deadball situation in the 30th minute, beating Mersin keeper Nihat Iahin with a well-taken free kick from outside the box.Mehmet was also instrumental in the Stormand#39s second goal that came at the stroke of half time (45th).

It was another deadball situation and the prolific midfielder took the corner kick that was headed home by Berlin-born attacking midfielder Sefa YIlmaz.Mehmet was here, there and everywhere after the break.

And Trabzonsporand#39s third goal came from another corner kick in the 57th that was again taken by Mehmet and headed into the back of the net by the same SefaThe rampaging Storm did not at all need a helping hand from Mersin to score its fourth goal, but the host unwittingly did that. Defender Serol Demirhan scored an own goal in the 70th, turning the ball into his own net in a desperate bid to clear it away.

Turkey striker Sinan KaloIlu reduced the deficit for Mersin to 4-1 in the 81st, reconnecting a cross from former Galatasaray defender Servet etin past Trabzon keeper Hakan ArIkan. But Paraguay goal-machine Oscar Rene Cardozo Marin, however, emerged from nowhere in the 90th to whack a shot into the back of the net after collecting a pass from midfielder zer HurmacI and put the final nail in the coffin of Mersin.

andldquoWe will continue winning and see how far we can go [in the race] among the top four teams,andrdquo Yanal said. andldquoAnd we will do everything possible to progress further,andrdquo he added.

But Yanal should be reminded that his team trails frontrunners Galatasaray and BeIiktaI by 11 points and defending champion Fenerbahe by 10, despite Mondayand#39s rout of Mersin. Therefore andldquoprogressing furtherandrdquo than fourth place in the Super League might only be tantamount to wishful thinking.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman