Turkey seeks fist group win against Iceland
AA photoTurkey, which grabbed a comeback draw against Ukraine in a Group I World Cup qualifier on Oct. 6, is now set to visit a well-motivated Iceland, which achieved an even more striking comeback against Finland on the same night.
The Turkish team under coach Fatih Terim, which has gained two draws in the first two games of the qualification stage, has much to lose if fails to beat Iceland, one of the stars of Euro 2016 over the summer.
Terim congratulated his men for the comeback in an interview after the game, while regretting the loss of points in a home game.
“I hope we will close out the week with a win,” he said.
Turkey clawed its way back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Ukraine with a late penalty from Hakan Çalhanoğlu in the game in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
Andriy Yarmolenko put the visitors ahead in the 24th minute with a penalty after Ömer Toprak brought down Artem Kravets, and two minutes later, Kravets doubled their lead when he was played in by Yarmolenko after springing the offside trap.
Ozan Tufan pulled a goal back for the hosts just before the break with a header in a crowded area from a corner by Çalhanoğlu, who equalized matters in the 81st minute with a penalty after Taras Stepanenko pulled striker Cenk Tosun’s shirt.
Terim controversially left Barcelona’s in-form midfielder Arda Turan, Burak Yılmaz of Beijing Guoan and Galatasaray’s Selçuk İnan out of his squad after the country’s poor Euro 2016 campaign when they went out in the group stage.
He also said after the game that he had no knowledge about his contract with the federation, which triggered a media criticism and speculation due to his high fee.
Turkey and Ukraine both have two points from two games behind Croatia and Iceland, who both have four. Croatian beat Kosovo 6-0 in the other match in the group.
Iceland struck twice in a thrilling last six-minute spell to claim a stunning 3-2 victory over Finland on Oct. 6.
Alfred Finnbogason equalized after 90 minutes before Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled in the winner in the sixth minute of added time as Iceland avoided their first competitive home defeat in three years.
“It didn’t look like we could win it, and I’m so happy we did,” said coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.
“Every second ball fell for them and it was the sort of game where you hit the post and the ball goes out. After 85 minutes I’d have taken a draw but the players kept believing and you reap what you sow. This group is going to be very tight; Finland are a good side and will take a lot of points off the other teams,” Hallgrimsson said.
The 900 noisy visiting fans in a sell-out crowd of 10,000 were jubilant as the clock ticked down and were as shocked as their team at the final whistle.
Iceland marked the win with a “Viking Clap” on the pitch while Finland’s supporters applauded their team despite the result.
The celebration, an intimidating slow chant accompanied by a unanimous clap, drew lots of attention at Euro 2016 in France.
Iceland was without three regular starters because of injury, goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson and forwards Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who plays for Galatasaray.
Bodvarsson, Sigthorsson and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored when Iceland beat Turkey 3-0 in a Euro 2016 qualification game in Iceland in 2014.
On Oct. 9, Ukraine will face Kosovo as Finland takes on Croatia.