Underdogs, VAR rise as Turkish Super League first half ends

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 25.12.2018 23:43
Updated 26.12.2018 08:00
Underdogs, VAR rise as Turkish Super League first half ends

Medipol Başakşehir finished the first half of the season at the top of Super League while other teams, once viewed as underdogs, followed - in a season dominated by VAR decisions

The Turkish Super League season's first half closed Monday night with the last matches between Fenerbahçe and Antalyaspor; Akhisarspor and Atiker Konyaspor all ending in draws.

Medipol Başakşehir, a rising powerhouse, grabbed the top spot with 35 points after game week 17.

Trabzonspor, which is looking to return to its glory days, managed to secure the second spot with 29 points. Evkur Yeni Malatyaspor, an underdog, also skyrocketed to the top three, followed by Kasımpaşa, another newcomer to the top flight. Galatasaray was the only member of Turkish football's Big Three to make it to the top five, trailing behind Kasımpaşa.

Former league champion Fenerbahçe remained in the relegation zone with only 16 points while Çaykur Rizespor was anchored to the bottom with only 12.

Kasımpaşa's Mbaye Diagne wrapped up the first half as the top scorer with 20 goals and he was followed by Trabzonspor's Hugo Rodallega with nine. Beşiktaş veteran Ricardo Quaresma topped the list of most assists with eight in 14 matches.

Mert Günok of Medipol Başakşehir, ended the first half as the top goalkeeper, conceding only eight in 17 matches.

Though the Big Three of Turkish football - Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe - spectacularly failed in the first half, they were not without minor successes.

Eren Derdiyok of Galatasaray was the undisputed top scorer out of the three teams. Only center forward of the team, Derdiyok scored seven for the Lions. Andre Ayew of Fenerbahçe followed with four goals.

Statistics show an average of 2.55 goals were scored per game, with teams scoring a total of 391 goals in the first half of the season, far less than the first half of last season when 461 goals were recorded.

Kasımpaşa dominated the score list with 37 goals in 17 matches. It was followed by Trabzonspor with 32 goals. Kasımpaşa also dominated the list of teams that conceded the most goals with 28, an unenviable spot shared with Çaykur Rizespor.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system introduced this season further fueled the debate over controversial referee decisions, an excuse for most clubs to shift the blame on their failures.

VAR was a dominant force on the pitch, with 98 decisions changed in total, affecting the outcome of matches. The system canceled 24 goals and awarded seven goals to teams in matches where on pitch referees had canceled goals.

VAR also played a major role in yellow and red cards. Referees issued 16 red and 23 yellow cards after re-examining offenses through the system.

Bursaspor suffered most with five canceled goals in the first half of the season. The team's striker, Diafra Sakho, saw three of his goals revoked after re-examination.

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