RACHEL – Weakened Eagles struggle past Antep to retain top spot

Weakened Eagles struggle past Antep to retain top spotClearly missing its powerhouse striker Demba Ba, BeIiktaI struggled to score at Gaziantep on Sunday, but OIuzhan zyakup slid one shot into the net to ensure that the Black Eagles will stay on top of the Spor Toto Super League standings for at least another week.Cenk Tosun was charged with the difficult task of filling Baandrsquos boots.

The Senegal striker has been out of the clubandrsquos past two games, including the Eagles 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, with a toe injury. Second string forward Cenk had two golden opportunities saved by Lithuania keeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas in the second half, luckily OIuzhan zyakup was there to put one of them away at the Kamil Ocak StadiumOIuzhan was instrumental in working the ball into Gaziantepsporandrsquos box, but passed it off to Cenk deep on the right side.

Karcemarskas challenged and won, but his save left him on the ground as the ball rolled out in front of the net. OIuzhan had kept up his forward momentum and it carried him in for a goal off the rebound.

andldquoCenk does not usually miss that kind of shot,andrdquo OIuzhan smiled. andldquoWe started the match ambitiously.

But our opponent cooled it down after that and we adapted to that. We started the second half better,andrdquo he added.

One goal was all the Eagles needed to reclaim their spot at the top of the Super League. BeIiktaIandrsquos win was tame in comparison to closely trailing rivals Fenerbahe and Galatasarayandrsquos annihilating their opponents, 4-1 and 5-0, respectively, on Saturday.

Knowing they would have to win to keep a one-point lead over Galatasaray and two points ahead of Fenerbahe, the Eagles proved they could score without their top forward.Life without BaArgentinaandrsquos Jose Sosa shot another just left of the box off of a dead ball outside the box in the 80th minute.

Turkey midfielder Gkhan Tre was denied a shot in the 90+1 minute after nailing the top right crossbar Karcemarskas deflected a hardball of Kerim Frei as well. Seven of BeIiktaIandrsquos 11 shots were on target.

Just as important was the Eagleandrsquos defense. Antep had seven shots, but none on goal.

andldquoWe deserved the victory,andrdquo BeIiktaI coach Slaven Bilic said after the match. andldquoWe scored and found shots.

We defended well as a team and did not allow our opponent near the goal. We kept Necip in the game to break the opponentandrsquos concentration,andrdquo he added.

Necip Uysal replaced Olcay Iahan in the 77th.Ramon Motta was injured in the 59th minute, but tried to stay on the pitch.

Minutes later he went off and Ismail KybaII came on instead in the 65th minute, but the Brazilian defender assured the press after the match. andldquoIandrsquom gaining tempo with each match.

It is not a big injury, I just rolled my ankle,andrdquo he said.Tensions rose in the final minutes as Jose Sosa was shown a yellow card for refusing to hand over the ball.

But it had never been a friendly match. In the first half, Gkhan Tre managed to get away with deliberately elbowing Ienol Can in the chest when neither were actually on the ball, which had just rolled out of play a few feet away from the pair Referee aIatay Iahan did not see it.

But BeIiktaI got three points, while Okan Burukandrsquos men extended their losing streak to four matches. The Eagles have had to become experts at dealing with injury.

Even if they are not pounding balls into the net like they used to, they are getting the job done.In other Sunday Super League results, Mersin Idman Yurdu and Kayseri Erciyesspor drew 1-1 in Mersin and Kardemir Karabukspor edged high-scoring Bursaspor 3-2 at home, a game which saw three red cards.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman