İstanbul Başakşehir extend unbeaten run but missing star man ahead of trip to Hearts for Europa Conference League opener
İstanbul Başakşehir will come to Edinburgh full of confidence this week after extending their unbeaten run to 10 games this season ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League opener away to Hearts.
On-loan Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore made an instant impact on his debut for the Turkish side in Saturday's 2-0 home Super Lig win over 12th-placed Alanyaspor. Serdar Gurler, capped seven times for Turkey, opened the scoring after 23 minutes.
It was Başakşehir’s third straight win and keeps them stay third in the Super Lig, a point adrift of Konyaspor and behind Fenerbahce on goal difference but having played a game less than both their rivals.
Traore came off the bench with 15 minutes remaining and the 26-year-old Burkino Faso international provided the assist for fellow debutant Philippe Paulin Keny to score the second goal. Keny is a Senegalese forward signed during the summer after helping Bandirmaspor finish third in the Turkish second tier.
Former Arsenal and Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil was missing from the squad sincer making his third appearance since his summer move from Fenerbahce as a late substitute in the 3-1 Conference League play-off win away to Royal Antwerp.
Başakşehir are managed by former Newcastle United, Galatasaray, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid midfielder Emre Belozoglu, who became director of football as latterly interim manager at Fenerbahçe after hanging up his boots.
Now 41, Belozoglu won 101 caps for Turkey as a player and was appointed Başakşehir manager in October last year, signing a two-year contract. It represented a return to the team he had captained for four years as a player.