“Iste Boyle, Her Sene Boyle!” That was written on the banner shown by the fanatic fans of Fenerbahce just after Cuneyt Cakir blew his final whistle last Sunday. With a giant picture of a muscular Canary, which you will never see in real life, and a Lion which half of its body buried in the grave, Fenerbahce fans wanted to deliver a message and confirmation that it is the same every single year, well at least for the last 16 years, that Galatasaray were never able to grab 3 points from Kadikoy.
In this point, I know that some Galatasaray fans would argue that they do not really care about that fact since they have lifted the League’s trophy in Kadikoy 3 years ago, something that generally used by them to counter the (now) 16 years mockery of winless Galata in Kadikoy. For your information, Kadikoy itself is not the name of Fenerbahce’s stadium, it is the name of the district where the stadium (Sukru Saracoglu) is. Additionally, it is well-known among Turkish football fans that it would take more than just fighting spirit and brilliant tactics to defeat Fenerbahce in Kadikoy, you will also need a great amount of luck.
The atmosphere before the match was thrilling though. Before the players came out from the tunnel, a super big banner hanged behind one of the goals with the classic yet legendary words, “This is Kadikoy!” written on it. That was a “warm” greeting from Fenerbahce fans to their fiercest rival. Both teams started the match with a high tempo, as expected in the derby, but it was the visitor who took the initiative by creating some good chances in the first 20 minutes. It only took 4 minutes for Cim Bom (Galatasaray’s nickname) to make Fenerbahce fans hold their breath for a while. Started with a crossing by Alex Telles, the ball which cleared by Egemen Korkmaz unintentionally reached Selcuk Inan who was unmarked. The Galatasaray captain who saw an empty goal then fired a shot which forced Volkan Demirel to do a super flying save.
A high defensive line plus stretching the field tactics applied by Ismail Kartal in the first minutes was exploited by Galatasaray who were actually without Felipe Melo and Semih Kaya due to injury. In the 11’ minute, the offside trap by Fener’s back four was broken by Burak Yilmaz who only had Volkan to beat in a one-on-one situation. But unfortunately that beautiful through pass by Umut Bulut was wasted by Burak who could not lob the ball into the net.
After a bad 20 minutes, Fenerbahce slow but sure were able to control the match. Led by Diego Ribas in the middle and supported by Turkey’s best Right Back (Gokhan Gonul) and Left Back (Caner Erkin) from the flanks, the Canary started to dominate the match and look for the opening goal. Started by a shot on goal by Dirk Kuyt in 22’, they repeatedly tested Fernando Muslera who played quite well that night. Despite having some good chances, both sides failed to change the score until the break.
By the start of the second half, Galatasaray newly appointed manager, Hamza Hamzaoglu, forced to sub out Hakan Balta who got an injury and put a newbie in the derby, Koray Gunter on the pitch. This substitution made Fenerbahce became more aggressive and intense in the attack as they wanted to exploit the inexperience Center Back. The tempo itself was not declining in the second half, both sides were keeping the high pace which made the match simply too good to be missed.
Fenerbahce got at least three golden chances to open the score which two of it was wasted by Kuyt. The first one was in 51’ when he was not able to tap in a good pass by Emmanuel Emenike, whilst the second was his failure to blast the ball into the net in a free position after Emre Belozoglu’s free kick hit the bar. Another great chance for Fener was the strike from Moussa Sow which brilliantly tipped off by Muslera in 54’. Galata who was under pressure also had some chances, but they all long-range shots from outside the box which could easily smothered by Volkan, except for that one fired by Hamit Altintop.
More than 50.000 crowds finally went crazy when Kuyt paid his debt by scoring the winning goal in 81’. Started by a long pass by Mehmet Topal, Kuyt who were in the left-wing controlled the ball and moved to the right before hitting a powerful shoot just outside the penalty area to the bottom corner of the goal, 1-0. Galatasaray reacted instantly and almost got the equalizer 2 minutes later by the chance created by Yasin Oztekin, but unfortunately his effort and the hopes of Galatasaray fans was crushed by another sensational save by Volkan.
The strike from the Holland forward was the only goal until Cuneyt Cakir, who displayed a good job as a referee that night blew his final whistle. The attacking mentality carried by Fenerbahce players since the very beginning, effective substitutions in the second half made by Ismail Kartal and the support fom the 12th man helped Fenerbahce to continue their tradition against Galatasaray in Kadikoy. Special credit should be given to Volkan Demirel who kept a clean-sheet with some super saves and Mehmet Topal who was successfully minimize the space for Wesley Sneijder to organize every attacking play of Galatasaray.
For Fenerbahce, they are not only decrease the gap to 1 point with Galatasaray, but they also got their confidence back after losing 5 points in the last 2 matches. Furthermore, they succeed to take the heart of their fans with that performance. Now we might (again) see a Fenerbahce home match with tens of thousands fans cheering for them.
With this result, Galatasaray who suffered their first defeat under the guidance of Hamza Hamzaoglu, still seat at the top of the table by having the same points with Besiktas (52 points) but are better in goal differences, while Fenerbahce fill the top three with a single point difference.
A neutral football fans should be happy with this result because it provided a more competitive race between Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce in Turkish Super League, something that we have never seen in the past years.