Turkey stunned world champions France on Saturday evening with an impressive 2-0 win in their Euro 2020 qualifying match.
Roared on by a fantastic crowd in Konya, Turkey took the game to their opponents with France unable to get any kind of fluidity at all.
Turkey were quicker, more urgent, and they were marshalled superbly by their well-organised midfield and their young centre-back pairing of Merih Demiral and Kaan Ayhan, who kept France’s all-star attackers very quiet.
It was the defensive pair who combined for the opening goal when Demiral headed Cengiz Under’s deep free-kick back across goal where it found his partner gleefully waiting to power a header past Hugo Lloris.
Turkey captain Burak Yilmaz then had a glorious chance to double the lead but he scuffed his shot, giving Lloris an easy save. However he soon made up for it.
Chasing down a loose ball, Yilmaz beat Samuel Umtiti and then helped out-muscle Paul Pogba, which gave Dorukhan Tokoz a chance to slip in Under, who took a touch before lashing a shot past Lloris and into the side netting.
Didier Deschamps reacted, bringing on Kingsley Coman at the break, but his team could not get much going in the second half as Turkey closed out for a win that could have been bigger but still sent them top of the group with a perfect record of three wins from three and zero goals conceded.
Turkey celebrate-Getty Images
Senol Gunes’ revolution could emulate the Golden Generation. Since former Besiktas manager Gunes has taken over he has spoken about bringing through the new generation in tandem with some of the old guard and so far it has worked brilliantly. Under is the headline act but there is a lot more going on than just him and this current crop of players boast incredible depth for Gunes to call upon.
The Golden Generation finished third at the World Cup in 2002 under Gunes and then repeated that six years later at the European Championships. It feels like it would be difficult for this team to better that but they are capable of causing a lot of shocks should they qualify for next year’s tournament. After missing out on the last four World Cups we could be about to enter another golden period of Turkish football.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Merih Demiral (Turkey): Under created one and scored one, and Yilmaz was superb apart from actually sticking the ball in the net but Demiral was the key figure in this game. In truth most players had good games for Turkey but Demiral, still just 21, didn’t look remotely fazed against the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud. He cut everything out and was dominant in the air, in fact the only mistake he made was arguing his way into a yellow card.
There are rumours that he is very close to a move to Juventus, which on the face of it would appear to be an exceptional bit of business for the Italian champions. He could end up being a cornerstone of their defence for years to come.
France’s players react after Turkey’s defender Kaan Ayhan scoring his team’s first goal during the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Turkey and France at the Buyuksehir Belediyesi stadium in Konya, on June 7, 2019. -(Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFPGetty Images
Turkey: Gunok 7, Celik 8, Ayhan 8, Demiral 9, Kaldrim 7, Tekdemir 7, Tokoz 8, Kahveci 7, Under 8, Karaman 6, Yilmaz 7. Subs: Tufan 6, Yazici 7, Omur 5.
France: Lloris 5, Pavard 5, Varane 5, Umtiti 4, Digne 4, Sissoko 4, Pogba 4, Mbappe 4, Matuidi 3, Griezmann 6, Giroud 5. Subs: Mendy 5, Coman 6, Ben Yedder 5.
30′ – GOAL! Turkey 1-0 France. Brilliant from Turkey. Under swings in a fabulous free-kick from the left to the back post that is headed back across goal by Demiral. His centre-back partner Ayhan is on hand to power a header past Lloris.
40′ – GOAL! Turkey 2-0 France. Unbelievable scenes! The stadium is rocking as Turkey go two up. Burak makes up for his earlier miss by blocking off Umtiti’s pass and then Tokuz bullies Pogba and slips in Under. He takes a touch fires it into the side netting, brilliant!
54′ – CHANCE! France are so open at the back and they’re making so many silly errors. It is nearly a chance for Burak but Lloris saves well.
69′ – WHAT A HIT! That woke things up! Tekdemir isn’t closed down outside the box so he has a crack and it’s some strike. It dips and moves and Lloris did well to tip it over.
- France did not produce a single shot on target in their 2-0 defeat to Turkey, attempting just four shots in total.
- Turkey are yet to concede after three qualifying games.