NICK LEYDEN - Sunday, April 10, 2011
Jozy Altidore notched his first goal in Turkey in a disappointing home defeat to Antalyaspor, while Freddy Adu was in the starting lineup for Rizespor's win over Kartalspor, boosting their promotion hopes.
Bursaspor 2-3 Antalyaspor
In his strongest performance since his transfer to Bursaspor, Altidore opened his Turkish account just before halftime at the Ataturk Stadium.
The home team's lead unfortunately would not hold up, as the defense crumbled in the second half, but Altidore's performance certainly should boost his confidence.
With Kenny Miller in his customary position as Bursaspor's target forward, Altidore spent a good deal of his time attacking out of the midfield.
Twice in the first half the New Jersey native created dangerous chances for the Scot, once with a perfectly-weighted ball through the middle of the visitors' defense and once after a clever back-heel and soft touch at the top of the area.
Miller was unable to convert either opportunity, but Altidore's early activity certainly marked his best outing since joining the Turkish team on loan from Villareal.
In the 45th minute Altidore finally capitalized on his efforts, meeting Volkan Sen's cross at the penalty spot and sending an unstoppable header back across the face of the goal.
In the second half Altidore continued to threaten, at one point tracking down a ball nearly at the endline and sending a teasing cross across the goalmouth, and then knocking down another cross directly into Miller's path, though the former Rangers man had his shot blocked.
Antalyaspor was able to level the proceedings in the 58th minute, however, when Ugur Inceman nodded home from a free kick.
Just eight minutes later Miller restored the home team's lead when he received a long ball over the top of the Antalyaspor defense and calmly slotted it past Omer Catkic.
For all his good work in the attack, Altidore's inexperience in a midfield role was exposed defensively on a couple occasions, most notably in the 67th minute when his ill-advised pass was intercepted in his own half and granted the visitors a mini-counter attack which Necati Ates converted to knot the game at two apiece.
The disappointing result for Bursaspor was sealed in the 74th minute when Inceman tallied his second goal of the game after finding himself wide open about 15 yards from goal and easily beating Bulgarian keeper Dimitar Ivankov.
An exhausted Altidore was subbed out in 89th minute for Omer Erdogan, though the move may also have been made to ensure that he did not pick up a second yellow, as he had been controversially booked in the 41st minute.
Third place Bursaspor will next take the field when they visit title hopeful Trabzonspor on Sunday.
Çaykur Rizespor 1-0 Kartalspor
Freddy Adu put in a roughly 65 minute shift on Sunday afternoon, as Rizespor picked up three valuable points.
The Benfica loanee was perhaps the most dangerous player on the field in the opening stages, as he was able to put two shots on target and played multiple enticing crosses into the area within the first 30 minutes.
Adu's effectiveness waned as the first half drew to a close, however, and he began to see far less of the ball.
The pattern continued early in the second half, and Adu was virtually invisible until he was replaced by Gökhan Kaba in the 65th minute.
Just minutes later Rizespor would take the lead when Multu Kizitlan drew a questionable penalty and Mehmet Al converted, putting the hosts up a goal.
The game would open up in the final 20 minutes as Kartalspor pushed for an equalizer, but neither team was able to find the necessary quality in the attacking third to change the score line.
Rizespor's best late chance fell to Gökhan who received the ball on a counter attack and hesitated before opting to shoot rather than pass to either of his teammates who had crashed the box.
His attempt, which went directly into the goalkeeper's arms, surely would have had the Rizespor faithful wishing the more creative Adu had still been on the field.
Kartalspor came close to leveling the score twice in the late going, once after Ersin Güreler nearly gave the ball away inside the six yard box, and once when the Rizespor keeper whiffed on a cross, giving away a free header.
But the visitors were unable to capitalize on their chances and the final whistle blew.
The feistiness of the game, which had been long on aggression and short on skill, spilled over after the final whistle with pushing and shoving.
But Rizespor will have happily returned to the locker room with all three points significantly enhancing their challenge for a promotion spot.