Turkey finds relief after 3-goal win over Estonia

Turkey finds relief after 3-goal win over Estonia

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey finds relief after 3-goal win over Estonia

Members of the Turkish national football team celebrate a goal against Estonia. Turkey’s 3-0 win over Estonia helped the home team restore its morale after a poor start.

The waters have calmed for the Turkish national football team after a 3-0 win over Estonia in a World Cup qualifying game on Sept. 11.

Emre Belözoğlu, Umut Bulut and Selçuk İnan were on the score sheet as Turkey cruised past Estonia in the game played at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. Turkey’s three points meant the team bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to the Group D favorite Netherlands on the opening match day last week.

The Netherlands, who beat Hungary 4-1 in Budapest, and Romania, enjoying a comfortable 4-0 win over Andorra, top the group with six points. Turkey and Hungary are at three points, while Estonia and Andorra have yet to win a point.

“We have set a goal to win the group and we want to reach it,” Coach Abdullah Avcı said. “It was important to win here.”

Estonia defender Enar Jaager was sent off for a 19th-minute foul on Burak Yılmaz, but the host could not capitalize until a minute before halftime, when captain Emre Belözoğlu scored from Arda Turan’s pass.

Turkey, beaten 2-0 in Amsterdam last week, increased the pressure in the second half, creating several early chances.

Striker Umut Bulut headed home at the near post on the hour from Sercan Sararer’s left-wing cross. Substitute Selçuk İnan added a third goal 15 minutes from time.

The win gave coach Avcı some breathing room, after four days of intense criticism from fans and media alike.

“The Netherlands is one of the top five international teams in football. We saw what we could do against them, we just could not get the result,” Avcı said.

The coach was criticized for not using playmaker Selçuk İnan, who has been arguably the most successful Turkish player of the last year, against the Netherlands. On Sept. 11, İnan started as a substitute, but was brought on in the second half and scored a goal to live up to the expectations of his supporters, who were chanting his name even while he was on the bench.

After the game, İnan said he did not mind being a substitute.

“That was the coach’s decision and everyone has to respect it,” İnan told NTV Spor. “I just want to give my best when I am used on the pitch. But I also want to thank those fans who supported me out there.”

Turkish national team captain Emre made a gesture after his goal, running to the bench and celebrating with all the players, starting and substitutes. However, television cameras showed Emre having a brief argument with Hamit Altıntop, who was an unused substitute following his disappointing performance against the Netherlands, for not joining the celebration.

“It is possible that some players could be upset about not playing,” Emre said about the incident.

“Even if we have some problems, we solve them internally; there is no need to talk about those things in the media.”

Turkey will host Romania in a crucial game next month.