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Udo Steven Bassey
Newly-signed Brazilian midfield man Joao Batista has become an unlikely hero for Galatasaray after emerging as the star of the night in the make-up League match against Kocaelispor at Istanbul's Ali Sami Stadium.

The former Gaziantep player produced a virtuoso performance on Tuesday night to halt the barrage of criticism that was aimed at his new team in the wake of recent poor results from the Antalya warm-up games. Cim Bom played 3, won 1 and lost 2.

Curtain raiser
With the fans acting as an extra man against hapless Kocaelispor, Batista opened the scoring for Cim Bom in the 21st minute, and played an important role in three other goals as Cim Bom ran riot to rout hapless Kocaelispor 5-1.

Umit Karan added a second for Galatasaray in the 24th, but Ghanaian striker Ayew reduced the tally for Kocaeli to 2-1 in the 29th.

However two minutes later, Kocaelispor was reduced to 10 men after Cihan was red-carded for elbowing a Cim Bom player, a decision Cihan claimed was "too harsh for inadvertent action."

Ref slammed
Some Cim Bom opponents also joined the bandwagon, criticizing the referee for sending off the Kocaeli player. My dear friend, Dr. Kursak Okuyucu, presumably a Fener fan, said, "Turkish referees are protecting Galatasaray and this is bad for the game."

I disagree. Who protects Galatasaray in Europe?, one may ask. My honest opinion is that Cim Bom is the best team in Turkey and deserves to be where it is.

Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu agrees. "From the way we've played all season, we deserved to finish the first half on top." Batista and Berkant have added flair and panache to the team," he added.

Cim Bom Chairman Mehmet Cansun was more cautious. "It's not time to be celebrating yet. But we are on the right track and want to keep up the pace until the very end."

Back to Ali Sami Yen
An own goal by Cihan in the 42nd settled the first-half score: Galatasaray 3, Kocaelispor 1.

But after the interval, it was Cim Bom all the way. With Batista doing all the "donkey work" in midfield, and young Turkish international and former Bayern Berkant striker performing wonders upfront, a Galatasaray rout was unavoidable. Kocaelispor, playing with a man less, was just on the pitch as a pawn of fate, or just to make up the numbers.

And so it came as no surprise when the fleet-footed Berkant made the score 4-1 in the 52nd and French defender Sabastien Perez sealed the score 5-1.

The commanding victory took Galatasaray back to the top of the 18-strong standings and eased the frustrations of Lucescu and all those associated with Galatasaray.

However, the bad news for Cim Bom is that Perez was booked and will miss Saturday's home match against Southern side Gaziantepspor. That match will be a real emotional one for Batista, who will play for the first time against the team that brought him to fame in Turkey.

Weekend's fixtures
Friday: Samsunspor vs. Fenerbahce.
Saturday: Diyarbakirspor vs. Genclerbirligi; Malatyaspor vs. Istanbulspor; Ankaragucu vs. Antalyaspor; Galatasaray vs. Gaziantepspor.

Sunday: Bursaspor vs. Goztepe; Kocaelispor vs. Rizespor; Yozgatspor vs. Denizlispor; Trabzonspor vs. Besiktas.
Ankara - Turkish Daily News
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