A classy performance with two goals by Brazilian star Alex de Souza leads Fenerbahçe to another victory against Galatasaray. The victory secures Fenerbahçe’s top spot in the Turkcell Super League standings and is the 10th consecutive victory at home for the Yellow Canaries
GOAL: Fenerbahçe's Brazilian star Alex de Souza celebrates his second goal against Galatasaray. AA photo
The popular belief about derby games in football is that they are unpredictable. But matches between Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, especially the ones in Kadıköy, have disproved that presumption every time for the last decade.
Fenerbahçe knocked down Galatasaray 3-1 in the Turkcell Super League game on Sunday to take a five-point lead on top of the standings. However, what looks even more important is that the Yellow Canaries managed to extend their winning streak to 10 games against their Istanbul rival in home games.
The last time Galatasaray prevailed as winner at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium was when the Lions beat Fenerbahçe 2-1 on Dec. 22, 1999. After losing nine league matches to Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, which was coming from two consecutive big wins, cd the Bosphorus to the Asian part of the city with high hopes of ending its dismal run. Nevertheless, a solid Fenerbahçe performance did not let Galatasaray snap the losing streak.
Like in many derbies against Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe took the lead early, with Alex de Souza scoring from short distance in the 12th minute. The Brazilian star was effectual again eight minutes into the second half when he won a penalty kick for his side after Galatasaray goalkeeper Leo Franco’s foul against him. Alex converted the penalty to give his side a two-goal lead.
Three minutes later, Galatasaray managed to cut the deficit to one with defender Hakan Balta and tried to pile on the pressure after the goal, but the efforts were in vain after a red card to winger Abdel Kader Keita. The Ivory Coast international punched Fenerbahçe left back Roberto Carlos after repetitive fouls by the Brazilian veteran and was sent off in the 74th minute.
Ten-man Galatasaray still had a chance to level the score in the 87th, but a poor shot by winger Aydın Yılmaz prevented the Lions from escaping the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium with one point.
Striker Daniel Güiza did not hesitate in front of the goal, however, and he heeled the ball into the net to cap a counter attack by Fenerbahçe to set the final score.
Besides the players on the pitch, the spectators at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium played their part in the outcome of the game, too.
The derby atmosphere was very tense as usual and the atmosphere became electrified even before kick-off. Galatasaray captain Arda Turan and Fenerbahçe midfielder Cristian Baroni started a fight while they were warming up. The crowd was not calm, either: An object thrown from the stands hit linesman Tarık Ongun, whose injury had to be treated with stitches to his head. Due to the events, the game had to start after a 10-minute delay.
Tension is not a new thing at Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray derbies; crowd troubles have been followed by punishments such as playing behind closed doors, and big fines are usually a part of the rivalry folklore. Players’ fights always occur there, as seen in a total of 22 red cards and 143 yellow cards in the last 25 meetings between the clubs in all competitions.
Galatasaray coach Frank Rijkaard said the red card to Keita was crucial in the outcome of the match.
“Keita was stressed due to the tension of the game. We have warned our players not to get carried away with the atmosphere, but that happened,” said Rijkaard. “When the game was 2-1 for them, I still had the belief that we could make it. But it was hard playing with 10 men.”
The Dutchman added that the atmosphere was impressive at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, but complained about the objects thrown.
“There is an incredible atmosphere here. Every player wants to play here,” said Rijkaard, adding that fans’ constant object throwing to the pitch was “embarrassing.”
Fenerbahçe coach Christoph Daum praised his players for performing perfectly according to his tactics.
“What we aimed for was playing with high discipline and good organization. And that was what we did,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it is not only the system, but the individual quality that determines the outcome of a game.
“Tonight, we saw a perfect Alex.”