Turkey wraps up Euro friendlies with win over Slovenia
DHA photoAn early goal from striker Burak Yılmaz gave Turkey a 1-0 victory away to Slovenia on June 5, boosting morale in the team’s final warm-up game before Euro 2016 starts in France next week.
Yılmaz, who joined China’s Beijing Guoan from Istanbul’s Galatasaray during the winter break, found the net with a powerful header in the fifth minute, running on to a free kick from Bayer Leverkusen’s Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who scored Turkey’s first ever goal in history against England last week.
The strike was Yılmaz’s 20th goal for the national team in 44 appearances, making the 30-year-old the nation’s fourth-highest scorer of all time.
“I have some physical shortcomings, but I think I am in good shape,” said Yılmaz, who suffered an injury in China.
Çalhanoğlu said the team was forced back after scoring the goal. “We had to press on our rivals but we could not do that,” he said.
“This was an important win in terms of going to the tournament with high morale,” coach Fatih Terim said after the game, expressing confidence in all 23 players. “It was good in terms of continuing the habit of winning but there were some parts in which we played badly.”
The experienced coach also praised goalkeeper Volkan Babacan for impressive performances in consecutive games.
Terim used six substitution during the game, trying tactical variations, but he did not offer minuets to Cenk Tosun, one of the two main strikers who had a fruitful season for domestic Turkish champion Beşiktaş as a substitute to Germany’s Mario Gomez.
Terim said Tosun had a tiny problem with his ankle.
What made the coach most happy was a good performance by Emre Mor, the 19-year-old Turkish-origin midfielder who was convinced to play for Turkey instead of Denmark, where he was born and raised and played his first game with Turkey on May 29 in a friendly against Montenegro.
Turkey, whose 2-1 loss to England at Wembley followed a 14-game unbeaten streak, face holders Spain, Croatia and the Czech Republic in Group D at the tournament which starts on June 10.
Turkey was scheduled to fly to France on June 6 to prepare for its first game against Croatia on June 12.
Memories of a dramatic 2008 quarter-final and 2011 play-off tie will come flooding back for fans of Croatia and Turkey when the teams meet in their Group D opener.
The two teams met in Vienna in an eventful Euro 2008 quarter-final, Turkey going through on penalties after a 1-1 draw in which both sides scored late in extra time as Semih Şentürk canceled out Ivan Klasnic’s 119th-minute strike to force the shootout.
Croatia gained some revenge by defeating Turkey 3-0 away – and by the same aggregate score – in the play-offs for Euro 2012.
Slovenia, who hosted the June 5 game in Ljubljana’s Stozice Arena, failed to qualify for the finals after losing a playoff to Ukraine.