RACHEL – Weakened BeIiktaI buries Akhisar to remain on top

Weakened BeIiktaI buries Akhisar to remain on topThe BeIiktaI Black Eagles overcame stubborn Akhisar Belediyespor in week 14 to retain its narrow leadership of the Spor Toto Super League and is on course to earn the informal title of winter champion.After rivals for the league leadership Galatasaray and Fenerbahe won their matches on Saturday, BeIiktaI knew it had to defeat Akhisar on Sunday.

And the Eagles kept up their good performance with a 3-1 win over Akhisar, a team that started out the season in good form but soon began plummeting.The Eagles were not even playing at full strength.

andldquoWe must continue to concentrate,andrdquo coach Slaven Bilic said after the match. andldquoDemba Ba was injured in the Trabzonspor match.

We were deprived of him and a few other players. Gkhan did not do well the past four days.

Cenk just joined training yesterday. We had to play the game before I could completely gather all my players together,andrdquo he added.

Demba Ba was on the bench until the 81st minute.Leader for nowNevertheless, BeIiktaI pulled ahead with a Cenk Tosun goal in the 24th minute.

andldquoOlcay played a big part in the goal I scored. He did exactly what he should have done and centered the ball to me.

I knew what I was doing when I headed the ball,andrdquo Cenk said after the match.Turkey midfielder Olcay Iahan was a major source of inspiration for the Black Eagles He set up another opportunity in the second half, but Jose Sosa hit the outside of the net.

Sosa redeemed himself in the 68th minute with an unstoppable free kick from outside the box. The Argentine midfielder curved it up and over the crowd gathered in the box to hit the very top left corner beyond OIuz DaIlaroIluand#39s straining fingertips.

andldquoThe coach told us in the first half that their keeper was playing forward. I scored my goal with the tactics he gave me,andrdquo Sosa said.

andldquoWe are reaching the end of the first half [of the season]. Opponents are playing as hard as they can against us.

They are trying harder to win matches, but we have to finish the first half as leader,andrdquo he added.No goals for GekasGreek striker Theofanis Gekas failed to shine for Akhisar at BaIakIehir Fatih Terim Stadium, though he retains the title of Super League goal king, due mostly to goals scored in Akhisarand#39s glory days as league leader in the opening weeks of the season.

His drop in form has paralleled Akhisarand#39s falling to 10th place, with no win since week 6 He missed two glaring opportunities.Bilal KIsa finally got some revenge in the 74th minute.

Burundi forward Saidi Ntibazonkiza had just been denied a shot and Bilal was positioned to sprint onto the ball and send it home from the top of the box. Guray Vural soon narrowly missed a long wide-angled shot, landing it on top of the Black Eaglesand#39 goal.

Gkhan Tore, who had come on for Kerim Frei, put the final nail in Akhisarand#39s coffin when he received an OIuzhan zyakup pass in the right side of the box. He outfoxed Kadir KeleI and pounded a decisive strike right into the center of the net in the final moments.

BeIiktaI is on fire. If it can keep this pace and performance up, there is no reason the Eagles cannot continue to lead the league until the end of the season.

But Bilic does not want to get ahead of himself.andldquoIt is too early to talk about the championship,andrdquo he said.

andldquoWe plan to increase the tempo of our training program Our performance is good. If we keep this up until the end of the season, I think we can stay in the running,andrdquo he added.

In other Sunday fixtures, Trabzonspor went to Bursa to share the spoils in a 3-3 draw, while tiny BalIkesirspor pulled off a shocking 5-3 defeat of KasImpaIa, only its second win of the season.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman