One of Turkiye’s oldest and biggest clubs Galatasaray have clinched their 23rd Süper Lig title in style, defeating Ankaragücü 4-1 away from home at the Eryaman Stadium on Tuesday night.
Argentinian striker Mauro Icardi opened the scoring for Galatasaray after 7 minutes, sweeping a cross into the 6-yard box into goal lead.
The home team drew level nine minutes later through Mendes João Milson, who put the ball past the goalkeeper at the near post, before Icardi struck again with a powerful header on the 38th minute to give the visitors the lead again.
The pulsating game saw Ankaragücü come close to equalising, including striking the crossbar with a thunderous strike from Ghayas Zahid on the 43rd minute. At the other end, his goalkeeper teammate Gökhan Akkan made a series of saves to keep the home team in the game.
All that changed with two goals in five minutes in the latter part of the second half. The first was from winger Barış Alper Yılmaz (73rd minute) who rounded Akkan to strike home, followed by Portuguese international Sergio Oliveira’s header (78th minute) to put the game beyond Ankaragücü and the Süper Lig title beyond Cimbom’s nearest challenger Fenerbahçe.
The Canaries had beaten Antalyaspor 2-0 on the same night, but it was too little too late. The gap between the top two sides remained five points and with just one game left to play, it was no longer mathematically possible for Fenerbahçe to catch their Istanbul rivals.
The two have a big derby game on Sunday, 4 June, which Galatasaray will host, but with the title sown up, the match will be all about pride for these big sporting rivals.
The team’s title success prompted major celebrations not only in Istanbul, but across Turkiye, in North Cyprus and worldwide for the Turkish diaspora. Fans of the club took to the streets in their cars, sounding horns and waving flags in Galatasaray’s red and yellow colours.
Speaking to BeIN Sports after Tuesday’s game, Galatasaray manager Buruk said: “It’s quite an emotional moment for me, unbelievably great happiness. I would like to thank the great Galatasaray fans, and my players. Hopefully, we will complete the league by winning the derby match next week.”
Galatasaray will be crowned Süper Lig Champions in front of their fans on Sunday in the year the Turkish Republic celebrates its centenary year. The title is their first since the 2018/19 season and they remain Turkiye’s most successful club in the modern era.
İyiler sonunda mutlaka kazanır…💛❤️
— Galatasaray SK (@GalatasaraySK) May 30, 2023
Cimbom head the list of clubs that have won the Süper Lig title since its launch back in 1959: Galatasaray (23), Fenerbahçe (19), Beşiktaş (16), Trabzonspor (7), İstanbul Başakşehir (1) and Bursaspor (1).
Their form has been scintillating at times this season, winning 26 of their 34 games, drawing four and losing four. Okan Buruk’s men have the Turkish league’s best goal difference – currently standing at 50 (77 scored to 27 conceded) – with only Fenerbahçe scoring more this season (84 goals).
For Jorge Jesus and his Canaries, their runner-up position will be disappointing. Fenerbahçe last won the Süper Lin 2014, and they will rue the chances they threw away this season, dropping too many points in games they should have won.
Their sole chance for silverware this season comes in the Turkish Cup, where they face İstanbul Başakşehir in the final on Sunday, 11 June.
Main image, top, of Galatasaray players celebrating winning the title with their fans after beating Ankaragücü 4-1 away from home on 30 May 2023. Photo via Galatasaray / Twitter