The Yellow Canaries, as Fenerbahçe is also called, came from behind to beat Mersin İdman Yurdu 2-1 on Sunday to extend their Kadıköy winning streak to 45 games. And the fact that the Canaries played “behind closed doors” -- that is adult men banned and women and children allowed in for free -- could not stop Aykut Kocaman’s men from keeping up the tradition.
Put another way, Fenerbahçe last lost at Kadıköy to Bursaspor in week 22 of the 2009-10 season on Feb. 22, 2010. And since then the Canaries have not tasted defeat at Şükrü Saracoğlu in their 45 matches in two-and-a-half years -- winning 37, drawing eight, scoring 97 goals and conceding only 23.
On Sunday Nurullah Sağlam’s Mersin maybe thought they could break the Kadıköy status quo when it went one-goal up in the seventh minute. A free kick taken by Paris-born Tunisia midfielder Wissem Ben Yahia deflecting off the head of new Fener signing Portugal midfielder Raul Jose Trindade Meireles in the defensive wall went straight into the net.
Fenerbahçe fought back furiously and was rewarded with an equalizer just before the stroke of halftime (44th), when newcomer midfielder Mehmet Topal tapped in an Alex de Souza corner kick. And the teams went to their dressing rooms tied at 1-1.
Fenerbahçe had more ball possession in the second half, but the Mersin lads defended resolutely, thwarting the Fener attacks.
Until the 89th, that is, when referee Hüseyin Göçek awarded Fenerbahçe an unjustifiable free kick that resulted in Cristian Baroni, who came in as a substitute for Topal, scoring with a powerful shot from the edge of the Mersin penalty box. Television replays showed that Mersin had committed no foul and two Mersin players were heading with hurricane speed towards the Fener goal when Göçek belatedly blew his whistle.
And the maligned referee continued his chain of errors when he sent off Ben Yahia -- for a second bookable offense -- after the match for remonstrating against the Fener free kick. The thing is that the Tunisian player had not been booked during the match and showing him a second yellow, when he had not seen the first, was a clear violation of the rules and regulations of the beautiful game. It will be interesting to see how the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) will react to this.
“This was a very important victory and the zeal to win earned us the maximum points,” coach Kocaman said. And we will understand the importance of this victory in the days ahead,” he noted.
Fenerbahçe, maybe with the help of the referee, was lucky to beat Mersin on Sunday. But the Canaries face a tougher task when they host French side Olympique Marseille in their Group C opener of the UEFA Europa League group stage on Thursday. Kocaman and his boys had better prepare very hard for this encounter.