Istanbul, February 20 () - Hakan Arıkan, the Turkish goalkeeper of Trabzonspor who conceded four goals against Napoli in the last 32-stage first leg game of the Europa League on Feb. 19, has uniquely bad memories with Napoli coach Rafael Benitez.
The Nov. 6, 2007 Liverpool-Beşiktaş game at Anfield Road Stadium remains the largest win in Champions League history, as the Mersey-side men under Benitez beat Istanbul’s black-and-whites 8-0 and Arıkan was the unlucky one on the goal line that evening.
This was only one week after Beşiktaş won 2-1 against Liverpool home, a short-lived victory. However, that would also mark the start of Arıkan’s 13 goals in three games against Benitez’s teams.
The second leg game against Liverpool affected Arıkan’s career badly and his race against his teammate, another Turkish-international Rüştü Reçber, putting Arıkan on the bench before he left the Istanbul side in 2011 for the underdogs of the Turkish league.
The Trabzonspor loan deal at the start of this season was definitely a fresh start for the 33 year old, who is looking for a breakthrough as now experienced player.
Football is full of coincidences and the Feb. 19 match meant more than an unlucky match-up for Arıkan since only minutes after the 4-0 Napoli defeat at home, the Liverpool-Beşiktaş game kicked off at Anfield and the Istanbul side fell once again against the reds thanks to Mario Balotelli’s 87th minute penalty that broke the deadlock.
Typically with Balotelli, the finale was not without controversy as the Italian striker wrestled the ball off designated penalty taker and captain for the night Jordan Henderson, before firing home.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard accused Balotelli of showing disrespect.
“Jordan should have taken the penalty. Rules are rules. It should have been Henderson. Mario has been a bit mischievous,” Gerrard, injured and working as a TV pundit, told ITV Sport.
“Credit to Mario, he’s scored, but it’s not nice to see when footballers are arguing. I think Jordan has handled the situation very well.
“He can see that Mario really wanted to score. Jordan walked away at the right moment and handled his post-match interview very well.
“Jordan is the captain and Mario showed Jordan a bit of disrespect there, but he’s scored a very important goal.
“I think six or seven players would have wanted to take that penalty so if they all say they are taking it, what happens then? Rules are in place for a reason.”
The two Turkish teams will now be focusing on the Spor Toto Super League competition, with both playing away games.
League leader Beşiktaş visits Eskişehirspor on Feb. 22, while Trabzonspor travels to Istanbul to play Kasımpaşaspor the same day.
Also on Feb. 22, Balıkesirspor hosts Gençlerbirliği and Mersin İdmanyurdu takes on Karabükspor.
In Feb 21’s games, Galatasaray visits Sivasspor, Bursaspor entertains Çaykur Rizespor and Istanbul Başakşehir hosts Gaziantepspor.
Second-placed Fenerbahçe and Akhisar Belediye will clash in Istanbul on Feb. 22 in the final game of Week 21.