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Victorious Besiktas retain Turkish title

Istanbul (AFP) – Besiktas on Sunday retained the Turkish Super Lig title for the first time since the early 1990s as the Istanbul side seek to stamp a new dominance on football in the country.

The Istanbul giants thrashed Gaziantepspor of the southeastern province of Gaziantep 4-0 away to secure the crown, their 15th overall.

Dutch striker Ryan Babel scored an early opener with Oguzhan Ozyakup following with another six minutes from half-time.

Anderson Talisca then secured a handsome win with a second-half brace.

For years in the shadow of Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce and Galatsaray, the Black Eagles last season won their first Turkish title since 2009.

But they had not retained the title since the early 1990s when they famously won three in a row in 1990, 1991 and 1992 under English manager Gordon Milne, who remains a legend in the city.

With the title, Besiktas also claim Turkey’s sole automatic Champions League spot and will hope for a drastic improvement on their group-stage exit last time round.

Manager Senol Gunes, the former Turkish international goalkeeper who guided Turkey to third place in the 2002 World Cup, has turned Besiktas into by far Turkey’s most consistent side.

But they still face a challenge to attract more international stars and were dealt a heavy blow by the departure of last season’s top scorer Mario Gomez, the German who did not want to stay in Turkey after the July 15 failed coup.

This season’s success has been built around a strong team performance rather than a superstar like Gomez as they saw off the challenge from upstart Istanbul rivals Basaksehir.

Besiktas have this season enjoyed playing in the brand new Vodafone Arena by the Bosphorus, opened in 2016.

It was struck by horror on December 10 when 44 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed in a bomb attack after a match outside the stadium claimed by Kurdish militants.

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