Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fener Hands Sivas First Home Loss of the Season

Fener Hands Sivas First Home Loss of the Season
By Nathan L. Redd

Despite the thermometer reading, Sivas felt awfully hot today for Fenerbahçe. With gametime temperatures hovering around -5 degrees celcius, Fener heated up the Turkcell Süper Lig standings by handing Sivasspor their first home loss of the season. The 4-1 scoreline also moved Fener temporarily into first place until the Galatasaray result.

The icy pitch kept players moving tentatively, but Fener dominated early play. Time of possession was clearly on the Canaries' side early on with several opportunities to take command. After 28 minutes, Alex de Souza got the offense going with a shot past the goalkeeper to temporarily quiet the Sivas crowd. Eleven minutes later, Semih Şentürk devastated the home fans with a second goal that put Fener up 2-0 heading into the break. Much of the red and white-clad fans were feeling down as it appeared Sivas would lose its hold on the top spot in the Turkcell Süper Lig.

The second half started with a different look from the home side. Sivas came out attacking, looking to equalize and keep their hold on the standings. Several times they had chances to get on the boards early in the second half, and their attack finally paid off in the 58th minute. Musa Aydın put a shot just to the left of Volkan Demirel to cut the lead in half and energize the home fans. With renewed hope, Sivas continued to attack looking for an equalizing goal. With Sivas pressuring, Zico made two crucial moves to turn the tide in the game. He brought in Gokcek Wederson for Ugur Boral in the 65th minute. Then, nine minutes later, Zico replaced Semih Şentürk with Mateja Kezman. Kezman, with five goals in his last three apperances, continued his streak on Sunday. Only four minutes after checking in, Kezman devastated the home crowd with a beautifully-crossed ball from the left side. Kezman gained control and sent a right-footed bullet past the Sivas keeper to put Fener up 3-1. Eight minutes later Kezman added another goal, giving him seven goals in the last week and a half and putting Fenerbahçe up 4-1. The last goal ended the fantastic run at the top for Sivasspor.

The win put Fenerbahçe temporarily at the top of the standings before the end of the Galatasaray match. Fener still finds themselves only one point out of first place. With the win over Sivas, Fener has now scored nineteen goals in their last three games after receiving criticism for their lack of offense.

After the game, Zico told reporters "We absolutely deserved this victory. Despite not having the best conditions to play futbol, my players did what they had to and made sure that we stay at the top of the league." Regarding the fantastic play of Mateja Kezman, Zico stated "Kezman did his utmost to help his teammates. He is ready and I hope that he will continue at training hard."

Fener returns home next weekend to host Gençlerbirliği Oftaşspor. The two teams finished 1-1 in Ankara earlier this season.

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