ISTANBUL - Japan teammates Yuto Nagatomo and Shinji Kagawa faced off Sunday in one of Turkish soccer’s biggest grudge matches, with Nagatomo’s Galatasaray emerging as a 2-0 winner over Kagawa’s Besiktas in the Istanbul derby.
The win at Turk Telekom Arena took Galatasaray to the top of the Super Lig table. The club leads Istanbul Basaksehir on goal difference and sit four points clear of third-place Besiktas.
Henry Onyekuru opened the scoring for the home side in the 44th minute before Fernando doubled the lead nine minutes into the second half.
“This was a must-win match,” said the 32-year-old Nagatomo, whose defensive contributions helped the home side keep a clean sheet. “As a veteran, I need to make sure the team stays calm and plays under control.”
The Japanese left-back played the whole 90 minutes for Galatasaray, which is seeking a record-extending 22nd Super Lig title.
Following the match, Nagatomo exchanged jerseys with longtime Samurai Blue teammate Kagawa, 30, who came off the bench for the visitors in the 75th minute.
The attacking midfielder, who joined Besiktas on loan from Borussia Dortmund in the midseason transfer window, lauded Nagatomo for his leadership on the field.
“(The soccer) is tough here in Turkey,” Kagawa said. “I’m really impressed by how (Nagatomo) plays such a big role, without ever missing his defensive assignments or making a mistake.”
Along with fellow Istanbul club Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas form Turkish soccer’s “Big Three,” together dominating the country’s top division in a roughly century-long rivalry.