Antep lives to fight another day; Samsun, Manisa in danger
Gaziantepspor gave visiting Kardemir Karabükspor a sound beating in their relegation dogfight in week 31 of the Spor Toto Super League. (PHOTO aa, Adem Yılmaz)
Spor Toto Super League leader Galatasaray and second-placed Fenerbahçe -- with 70 and 61 points respectively -- have already qualified for the four-team championship playoffs that will be held at the end of the regular season.
And from the look of things, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş are the teams very likely to complete the playoff list.
However, the tail end of the league is like a boiling cauldron and cellar-dweller Ankaragücü is the only team that has been officially relegated to the Bank Asya League 1 (second division). The point at issue now is which two teams will join doomed Ankara in the lower division next season.
Gaziantepspor crushed Bülent Korkmaz’s Kardemirspor 3-0 in a relegation dogfight at Kamil Ocak Stadium on Sunday, but it seems both the victor and the vanquished will avoid the drop.
A goal by Germany junior international forward Cenk Tosun in the 30th, a penalty converted by Slovakia midfielder Marek Sapara in the 68th and another goal by 20-year-old striker Muhammet Demir in the 78th gave Hikmet Karaman’s men a much-needed victory over Kardemirspor.
Second-from-the-bottom Samsunspor appears to be another relegation candidate after the Black Sea side was beaten 2-0 away by Kayserispor on Sunday at Kadir Has Stadium and sent home empty-handed.
Sweden junior international striker Emir Kujovic scored the opening goal in the 72nd minute and Netherlands-born Morocco striker Nordin Amrabat netted the other in the fifth minute of added time (95th) for Kayserispor’s victory that all but condemned Samsunspor to the second division next season.
It was a rough-and-tumble in which referee Tolga Özkalfa dished out yellow cards -- five against host Kayserispor and four against Samsunspor -- but Shota Arveladze’s Kayseri maintained its cool to carry the day.
Samsunspor hosts Mersin in week 32 this weekend before taking Beşiktaş in İstanbul in week 33 and having a home date with Sivaspor in the regular season’s finale in week 34.
The match between Beşiktaş and third-from-the-bottom Manisaspor was still being played Monday night when Today’s Zaman went to press. But judging by Manisaspor’s position in the standings, the Aegean representative appears to be a goner.
Newcomer Mersin İdman Yurdu beat visiting İstanbül Büyukşehir Belediyespor 2-0 and Tevfik Sırrı Gür to boost its chances of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League playoffs at which the teams finishing fifth to eighth will compete at the end of the regular season.
Sunday’s result at a glance
Gaziantepspor 3, Karabükspor 0
Kayserispor 2, Samsunspor 0
Mersin İdman Yurdu 2, İstanbul BB 0