Turkey flying high in bid for World Cup berth
Ozan Tufan scored two superb goals and Çağlar Söyüncü added another in a comfortable 3-0 win over Norway 3-0 in a World Cup qualifying Group G game on March 27 as Turkey maintained its perfect record in the campaign.
Playing their home game in Malaga due to coronavirus restrictions in Oslo, the Norwegians quickly fell behind as Lille’s Yusuf Yazıcı sliced their defense open down the left and put in a low cross for the late-arriving Tufan of Fenerbahçe to rifle home in the fourth minute.
Alexander Sörloth could have put his side level in the 26th minute, but his powerful shot cannoned back off the post and it proved to be a costly miss when Leicester City’s Söyüncü was left unmarked to head home Yazıcı’s corner two minutes later.
Sörloth and Erling Haaland went close from an early second-half corner but their night was effectively ended when Tufan netted Turkey’s third with a glorious curling shot that flew in at the far post to make it 3-0 just before the hour mark.
Söyüncü also enjoyed a fine performance of helping keep Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland quiet.
“Last year we’ve qualified for Euro 2020 and now we’re fighting for a spot in the World Cup,” Söyüncü told uefa.com. “We want to be there.”
The convincing victory came three days after Turkey bat the Netherlands 4-2 at home, with its third group game scheduled against Latvia tomorrow.
“We did everything right and we won, I’m proud,” Turkey coach Şenol Güneş said after the game.
“[The players] played attentive, smart, disciplined, heartfelt, patient, appropriate and on time and it paid off.”
Yazıcı said the players were committed.
“As a team, we love to spend time together,” he said. “We are always delighted to make runs to cover and help each other out on the pitch. I am really happy to be a part of this team.”
Two wins against its toughest opponents in group gave Turks a lot to cheer about, however, Güneş cautioned that the campaign is still in its early stages.
“This is just the beginning of a journey,” he said.
“Six points in two games is good, but we have eight more games ahead of us.”
After two matches, Turkey tops Group G with six points ahead of Montenegro, which beat Gibraltar 4-1 on March 27, on goal difference.
Netherlands, which beat Latvia 2-0, is third on three points, with Norway fourth on goal difference.
“We know that goal difference will be important in these qualifiers,” said Duct coach Frank De Boer, who saw De Jong and Davy Klaassen hit the woodwork with Steven Berghuis and Luuk de Jong scoring the home side’s goals in front of 5,000 fans.
“We deserved to win with at least five goals. We tried everything.”
Also on March 27, Cristiano Ronaldo threw his captain’s armband to the ground in anger after being controversially denied an injury-time winner as Portugal blew a two-goal lead against Serbia.
Portugal drew 2-2 in Belgrade, despite Ronaldo believing he had scored the winner in the third minute of stoppage time when the ball appeared to cross the goal line before Stefan Mitrovic cleared.
But without technology in use, the goal was not awarded and a fuming Ronaldo was then booked for his protests.
At the final whistle he stormed from the pitch, throwing his captain’s armband to the ground.
“I always give and will give everything for my country, that will never change,” Ronaldo later posted on his Instagram page.
“But there are difficult times to deal with, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being harmed.”