By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 6, 2021.
Canadian forward Cyle Larin was near unstoppable Wednesday, scoring four goals for Turkey’s Besiktas in a 6-0 victory over visiting Caykur Rizespor in Istanbul.
The 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., upped his season goals total to 10, moving into a tie for the Turkish scoring lead with Gabon’s Aaron-Salem Boupendza, who plays for Hatayspor.
Veteran Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, given the day off by Besiktas, watched Larin put on a show in the first home game of the year at Vodafone Park
Larin opened the scoring for the Black Eagles in the 19th minute, taking a pass from a teammate at midfield and sending the ball ahead before steaming towards the penalty box. Two passes later, a sliding Larin tapped the ball in from close range after finding a hole in the defence.
Larin made it 2-0 in the 31st minute, taking advantage of a Rizespor’s defender poorly weighted attempt to head the ball back to his goalkeeper. The Canadian got to the ball first and chipped it over the ‘keeper.
Larin started and finished Besiktas’ fourth goal in the 79th minute, pressuring a Rizespor defender who was hoping his goalkeeper would come for the ball as it headed towards the penalty box. The defender and goalkeeper collided, allowing Larin to poke the ball in.
Larin profited from another defensive blunder in the 83rd, intercepting an errant pass and slotting the ball past the onrushing Rizespor ‘keeper to increase the lead to 5-0.
Oguzghn Ozyakup and Ajdin Hasic also scored for Besiktas, which sits atop the Turkish Super Lig standings at 11-4-1. Rizespor stands 12th at 5-6-5.
Larin has won 31 caps for Canada, including 19 starts, with eight goals.
Selected first overall by Orlando in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, the University of Connecticut product won rookie of the year honours with a 17-goal campaign. His total remains an MLS rookie scoring record.
He added 14 goals in 2016 and 12 in 2017 before becoming embroiled in a messy divorce with Orlando. MLS initially resisted Larin’s bid to move to Europe, arguing he was under contract through 2019.
The transfer was eventually agreed to in January 2018. Larin, one of a long line of talented players to emerge from Sigma FC of Mississauga, Ont., left MLS with 43 goals in 87 games.
Larin was loaned out to Belgium’s SV Zulte Waregem, but returned to Besiktas last June.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021