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Besiktas coach leaves hospital after 'night football died'

The coach of top Turkish football side Besiktas on Friday left hospital after sustaining a head injury that required five stitches when a projectile was thrown in a chaotic and violent cup match against arch Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce.

Senol Gunes collapsed to the ground when he was hit by the projectile, apparently thrown from the stands, in an ugly incident that underlined the continued issues with crowd behaviour in Turkish football.

“The night football died,” was the headline in the Hurriyet daily. “Football in emergency care,” added the Fanatik sports daily above a picture of Gunes in hospital on a stretcher.

The match, a second leg semi final cup clash at Fenerbahce’s ground, was abandoned in the 57th minute after the incident with the score at 0-0.

Gunes, 65, the legendary former Turkish international goalkeeper who has led Besiktas to two consecutive championship titles, was taken by his own medical staff to the changing rooms where he received five stitches to the head wound.

He was later taken to hospital and Turkish media said he was finally allowed to go home early in the morning after spending the night under observation.

Turkish television pictures showed Gunes clutching his head in pain and bewilderment and falling to the turf after being hit by the projectile, suspected to be a cigarette lighter.

‘WE AWATCHED ANIMALS’

The incident happened after a row erupted between Fenerbahce fans and Besiktas players on the bench. The atmosphere had already been tense following a five minute stoppage in the first half and the sending off of Besiktas’ star Portuguese defender Pepe for an outrageous tackle in the 29th minute.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said in a statement it would take a decision on Wednesday over the outcome of the match. Media said options included awarding the match as a walkover or having it replayed behind closed doors.

At least 33 people were detained by police after the incident, including the fan suspected of throwing the projectile, reports said.

“What we watched was not football, but animals,” said the columnist of Hurriyet, Mehmet Yilmaz.

The incident adds to tensions as the Turkish league season heads to its climax, with all four big Istanbul sides — Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Basaksehir — in contention for the title.

Galatasaray put its rivalry with Besiktas aside to wish Gunes well in a message “in the spirit of gentlemanship” and noted that it had waged a major struggle against “hooliganism and violence” in recent years.