Turkey spoils Portugal’s party
Turkish forward Umut Bulut (R) was the man of the match scoring two goals and setting up the third against Portugal. AP photos
Portugal fans’ hopes of sending their national team off to the Euro 2012 was dashed by Turkey June 3.
Turkey upset Portugal 3-1 in a friendly on Saturday, a week before the Portuguese start their campaign at the European Championship against Germany.
Turkey almost shut down Portugal, who had the backing of a packed La Luz Stadium in Lisbon, where an electric atmosphere took place.
Despite playing most of the game on its own half, Turkey found some openings and hit Portugal in the counter.
On the other hand, Portugal dictated the run of play but lacked ideas in attack and too often was guilty of poor finishing, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s 65th-minute penalty miss.
“It is very good to win a game like that,” Turkey coach Abdullah Avcı said. “I am happy with the performance.”
“Portugal is a strong and interesting team that has participated to all European Championships since 1996,” Avcı added. “We knew they would press us hard. We made some mistakes in the first 20 minutes.
“We then balanced the game but conceded when we got better. At the end we battled hard and found some space.”
Toulouse forward Umut Bulut tapped in from close range in the 35th and extended Turkey’s lead in the 52nd after a defensive blunder by Miguel Veloso.
Five minutes later Nani’s low drive from the right flank into the far corner pulled one back for Portugal, but Ricardo Costa’s 88th-minute clearance hit Pepe and rebounded into the net.
Avcı praised Umut Bulut, who spent last season with Toulouse after moving from Trabzonspor.
“He is a versatile player that we can use in various positions,” Avcı said. “He is an important part of our team both on and off the court.”
Portugal is winless in its last three matches and for the second time in a week was jeered by its home fans. It previously conceded 0-0 draws in friendlies against Macedonia and Poland.
Portugal made six changes from the team that started against Macedonia last week, including Miguel Lopes making his debut at right-back.
The Portuguese, eager to put the weak performance against Macedonia behind them, started brightly.
Ronaldo produced one of his trademark dipping volleys from a free kick in the 10th which Volkan
Demirel was at full stretch to keep out, then Hugo Almeida’s diving header from a Fabio Coentrao cross went just over the bar.
Hamit Altıntop hit the Portuguese goal frame in the 30th, and Hugo Almeida did the same at the other end.
Sercan Sararer beat two Portuguese defenders and poked over a low cross for Bulut’s opener. Bulut extended Turkey’s lead as Portugal began to look ragged, especially in defense.
Ronaldo had a chance to level the scores from the spot but Demirel dived to his left to keep out the shot.
That was Turkey’s fourth match in its European tour of friendly games.
Turkey has previous ly beat Georgia 3-1 on May 24, lost to Finland 3-2 and defeated Bulgaria 2-0 on May 29.
Turkey will wrap up its European tour with a friendly match against Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine tomorrow.
Additional report from AP was used in this story.