Turkey guaranteed its place at next year’s European Championship finals with a draw against Iceland.
Topping their group before kick-off, the Turks needed just a point to qualify, and there was jubilation on and off the pitch when the final whistle went.
A goalless draw, played at Galatasaray’s Turk Telekom Stadium in Istanbul, took Turkey to 20 points in Group H and ensured their presence at the UEFA tournament next summer.
It marks the fifth European finals Turkey have qualified for. They have previously made it to the European Championship finals in 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2016.
With third-placed Iceland needing to win to have any chance of automatic qualification, they pushed the Turks hard in Istanbul, frustrating the home side with their robust defence and attacking play.
In the first half, the best chance fell to Turkish striker and captain Burak Yılmaz whose header from a Zeki Çelik cross went just over the crossbar.
In the latter stages of the game, Iceland nearly pinched the win. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner in the 82ndminute found defender Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson, whose back-post header was cleared off the line by defender Merih Demiral, with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson denied from the rebound.
Happy and proud to have qualified for UEFA EURO 2020! Looking forward to participating in this great competition. Thank you to all those who have supported us! 👏🇹🇷 https://t.co/UDfuXytXJH
— Milli Takımlar (@MilliTakimlar) November 15, 2019
Turkey responded with a fierce attack, that culminated in a fine long-range effort from Lille midfielder Yusuf Yazıcı that hit the crossbar. In the end, the game ended 0-0, ensuring Turkey’s progress with a game to spare.
Fellow Group H contenders France struggled to beat lowly Moldova at home. The World Champions went behind to a goal by Vadim Rata on the 9thminute, before Raphael Varane equalised after 35 minutes. The French dominated possession, but the Moldovan defence held firm until they conceded a penalty on the 79thminute, which Olivier Giroud converted to make it 2-1.
The win propelled France to the top of Group H on 22 points and means they also qualify for the finals of Euro 2020 next summer.
The tournament will be held in 12 cities in 12 European countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020.
This weekend, the teams play their final group matches, with Turkey taking on Andorra away, while France are away to Albania. Both games kick-off at 7.4pm UK time on Sunday 16 November.
Main photo, top: Turkish players celebrate after qualifying for Euro 2020 following 0-0 draw against Iceland in Group H qualifier, 14 Nov. 2019. Photo © Twitter/MilliTakimlar