Sunday, December 16, 2007

Semih the Savior in Ankara

Semih the Savior in Ankara
Fener Grinds Out Ugly 2-1 Win Over Genclerbirligi
By Nathan L. Redd

Despite being dominated in many facets throughout the game, Fenerbahce was able to grind out a 2-1 win over Genclerbirligi Sunday afternoon. The win moves Fenerbahce up with 34 points, tied with second-place Sivasspor.

The match was defined by sloppy play and controversy in Ankara. Fenerbahce, coming off two emotional wins over Galatasaray and CSKA Moscow, looked unenthused and fatigued. Sloppy passing and out of position defending helped Genclerbirligi get on the boards first with a goal by Burhan in the 10th minute. A perfectly deflected pass in the box was sent back to Burhan who put a bullet past Volkan to give the home side the lead.

The Genclerbirligi goal would energize the 16th-place side while Fener appeared to hang their heads for most of the first half. Two controversial calls that should have given Fenerbahce an opportunity to draw even were missed. Genclerbirligi goalkeeper Gokhan Tokgoz attempted to put the ball in the air to kick it out when Alex de Souza stepped in to knock the ball away. The ball bounced behind the goalkeeper and Alex put it in goal to seemingly tie the game up. However, the goal was waived off by the referee. Further review showed that Alex did not come in contact with Tokgoz. Another missed call saw a handball in the box by Genclerbirligi that everyone in the stadium noticed, except the referee. After the handball (shown in the photo above), the player was so aware of his offense that he stopped and appeared to wait for the referee's whistle, which never came. The first half would see Genclerbirligi maintain their 1-0 lead going into the break.

The second half started much like the first half ended. Sloppy passing from Fenerbahce and a lack of energy again allowed Genclerbirligi to take control. The home side dominated the game through the first half, and the second half appeared it would be no different. A number of yellow cards were handed out, and Gokhan Gonul would get an opportunity to tie the match with an open path in the box to send the ball past Tokgoz. With no defender in front, Gonul was taken down from behind by a defender in the box, which should have resulted in a penalty kick. Again, the call was missed and Fener would have to press on.

Semih Senturk has been the hero for Fenerbahce on so many occasions this year, and number 23 would come to the rescue again in Ankara. Sixty-six minutes in, Semih was able to put the ball just over the head of Tokgoz at the top of the goal to get the equalizer. With at least a draw seeming likely, Fener went on the attack looking for more. Semih's goal was an obvious momentum-changer, as the counter-attacking from Genclerbirligi that we had seen in the first half seemed to disappear. Fener created more opportunities in the last 25 minutes, something they sorely lacked in the first half. Finally, five minutes before the end of regulation, Fener would get the second goal they needed. A beautifully placed free kick to the left side of the box found Semih Senturk again waiting, where he put a magnificent header past Tokgoz who was caught off-guard and off-balance. The second goal from Semih sealed the win for Fenerbahce, who will leave Ankara with three points.

Despite being in the relegation zone, Genclerbirligi played superb futbol through the first 65 minutes of the game, keeping Fenerbahce from find any real opportunities to score. Magnificent play from both Isaac Promise and Burhan Eser nearly created a 2-0 lead for the Ankara side on several occasions. The home side was active and energetic, not resembling a team fighting to avoid relegation at the bottom of the table. Fenerbahce clearly looked tired and unproductive, but Genclerbirligi took advantage and contributed to Fener's problems in the first half. Bulent Korkmaz had his side well-prepared, but the momentum-changing first goal from Semih took the life out of Genclerbirligi.

The win gives Fenerbahce 34 points on the season so far, tied with second-place Sivasspor. It's Fenerbahce's tenth win of the season, tied with Galatasaray and one short of Sivasspor's 11th. Fener will now head back to Kadikoy and get ready to host rivals Trabzonspor next weekend. Trabzon defeated Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor earlier in the weekend to jump up to seventh place in the standings.

(photos courtesy of Hurriyet)


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