Ankaragücü in Cebeci
Mounted police await fans after last week's fun
Ankaragücü remain peripatetic while the Ondokuz Mayıs Stadium undergoes repairs, and this week brought the club to the Pride of Cebeci, Cebeci İnönü Stadium for a cup match. The Turkish Football Federation say İnönü is Ankara's largest stadium with 37,000 capacity, though if that many people did come this concrete memorial to 1960s corner-cutting would probably collapse in on itself.
Ankaragücü began with a positive 10 minutes, demonstrating a "pass into space and move" strategy that had Başakşehir foxed. Some of the time this worked and the team broke through the Başakşehir midfield, and some of the time our players didn't meet the ball on time. Nonetheless, it led to an early advantage and our hopes were high.
Then in the 15th minute, there was a devastating Başakşehir attack and cross, very luckily forded by the defence. And another swooping attack in the 16th minute. A well-placed corner kick immediately after - and very nearly conceded - led me to ask, "who are these guys?"
On the ticket, their logo had the date they were founded: 2014.
It turns out that Başakşehir were, until last year, İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor. That is, they are a Süper Lig side. But the two divisions between the clubs were barely showing on the pitch.
At least, not until the 30th minute, when Başakşehir began a flurry of attacks, and the pressure stayed on until just before half time, when a corner kick met the head of a poorly-marked forward to put the visitors ahead.
At half time, we attempted a diagnosis of what had gone wrong in that last 15 minutes:
- The team left no-one back and were outpaced by their attackers
- Passes were badly-weighted, in contrast to the start of the game
- The team got jittery in front of goal
The second half got off to a better start. Hasan broke free and crossed over to Umut, who beat the goalie with a header, but struck the bar. Ten minutes later, there was a fantastic breakthrough that should have been the equaliser - Gökhan Erdoğan ran unmarked into the box with only the keeper to beat, but the ball got a little ahead of him and the keeper was able to pick it up.
Başakşehir dived three times in the Ankaragücü box in about 20 minutes, all of which were calmly ignored by the referee.
In the 63rd minute, Ankaragücü got a well-deserved equaliser. A chip into the box and a flying header by Umut.
A well placed lob of the keeper in the 72nd minute nearly put Ankaragücü up, but for a goal-line clearance by a Başakşehir defender.
From the 87th minute onward, Başakşehir again began to completely dominate, but it was too late - their one big chance was shot over the Ankaragücü bar in extra time. Shortly afterwards, Levent was injured and stretchered off. He hadn't had a great game, but hopefully he'll be fit and on form again soon.
Not too many away fans today...
Men of the match: Hasan, who was a little machine just behind the attack, and who did a lot of the work in setting up Ankaragücü's chances. Also worth mentioning the referee: a class act who not only stopped players taking ten yards extra by wandering up the pitch for set pieces (as they do regularly in the league) but also saved Ankaragücü a few penalties by recognising when Başakşehir were diving.