Genclerbirligi's performance last night was fantastic to watch. They played with skill and urgency and desperation in defence. It was all great stuff but also highlighted what could have been. In the last few weeks Gencler have gone ahead early and then played like rubbish. Last night, they went ahead early and kept on pressing. The result: a famous victory.
Genclerbirligi 2 - 0 Fenerbahce
A couple of lovely drinks in the warm sunshine before an amble stroll off to the stadium. Well, it was a bit cold actually and due to weird transport arrangements the amble stroll was more of a rushed flee. Robin and Erasmus Dan were there as was Mark and me and Little Oz and his mate Tanner. Oguz then came and picked us up but instead of coming to the match himself he left his son Onur with us. And why didn't he come in? A little matter of the 100tl tickets might have had something to do with it. His loss.
|Tanner, Little Oz, Onur and Big Oz|
In the stadium with plenty of time to spare but still we couldn't get our usual spot. It wasn't too bad though. Off we go and boy the Fener fans were loud. A Sunday night kick-off and they still manage to completely fill the Saatli stand, and then some of gecekondu and then some, not that many really, were as always in with us in Maraton.
For them this was going to be a walk in the park. The headlines in some of the paper's and the Lig TV website before the match were "Fener's rehearsal before Benfica match". You can't get much more contemptuous then that.
The Fener fans were loud and we had hardly even had a chant before Azofeifa took a corner, it swung in and bang, Aykut run in, headed it and ... time for us to start shouting and being contemptuous.
Five minutes in and ahead. Wow!
Fenerbahce of course were going to come back. For the next 30 minutes or so it was just wave after wave after wave of attacks. Only thanks to some great work from the backs, Aykut, Ahmet Calik, Cem Can and Tosic as well as some good saves from Ramazan, and I guess some good dollops of lady luck, were we able to keep them out. It would take me forever to describe all the shots and saves and near misses but one in particular stood out. Kuyt smashed it at goal, Ramazan sort of stopped it but it then dribbled under his legs towards the line before he was able to pounce on it, just a few inches away from disaster.
Somehow or other Fener couldn't score and you could sense the frustration rising from not just the Fener fans but from the players as well. ie the perfect time to put the knife in!
Azo on the left gets the ball somewhere near the half-way line; Gencler attackers are running through fast. Azo passes to Tomic on the right who controls the ball near the box, takes just enough time to settle himself and then sends in a perfect cross onto the head of Bjorn. This was brilliant.
So a summary of Gencler's first half
Defended like hell
Gencler's goals filmed by one of the fans, or someone. Thanks to Genclerbirligi SK for the video
Second half and it was all over the place, and I mean that in the best possible way. Fenerbahce of course came at us full on and again our defence was brilliant. This half though the Fener attacks opened up our chances for counter attacking.
There were no goals but it was great football to watch. Left-back Tosic in particular was having a belter of a game. As was Ramazan.
The same can't be said for Jimmy Durmaz. He came on for an injured Tomic with about 30 minutes to go and went into the right-wing position. It was exactly when Gencler were making most of their counterattacking moves and Jimmy just wasn't in the groove. His passes were all wrong, open men were being ignored and it was all a bit annoying.
If the scores had been equal or us behind I think the Gencler crowd would have started saying a thing or two but as we were ahead it didn't seem to matter so much. It was thus with great surprise that in the 82nd minute Jimmy was replaced. He wasn't a happy chap, taking off his shirt and going straight to the showers.
As they watched the league finish for them the Fener fans started the usual abuse and we could only reply by wishing Benfica well on Thursday.
Sunday was one hell of a good night.