Turkey on course for Euro 2020 finals after beating world champions France

Turkey maintained course for qualification to next year’s Euro finals next June with a sublime performance against France, securing a 2-0 win at the Torku Arena in Konya. The result was all the sweeter as it was the first time in Turkish footballing history that they had triumphed over the French in a competitive game.

Midfielder Kaan Ayhan opened the scoring after 30 minutes when he headed home following a free kick from Cengiz Ünder. The Roma winger’s cross to the far post was met by central defender Merih Demiral, who headed back across goal. Ayhan, who plays for Fortuna Düsseldorf, was unmarked as he rose to meet the ball and steer it into the top left corner, beyond the reach of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The Turks doubled their lead ten minutes later from open play. Burak Yılmaz intercepted the ball from Moussa Sissoko 30 yards from goal, then dodged Paul Pogba’s challenge to slide the ball to Dorukhan Toköz. The Beşiktaş midfielder sent a perfectly weighted diagonal ball into the path of Ünder, who stayed cool to find the back of the net with a fine shot at the near post.

Led by Şenol Güneş, who returned to managing the national side in February of this year, Turkey’s young and fearless team had a host of chances to increase their lead against the reigning world champions. In comparison, France looked a shadow of the side that lifted football’s biggest trophy last summer.

The French may have had the lion’s share of possession, but were woeful in defence and rarely threatened going forward. They went through an entire 90 minutes without creating a single clear-cut chance which was, according to the BBC, the first time in ten years that France had failed to record a single shot on target in a game.

Highlights from Turkey v France UEFA 2020 qualifier, 8 June 2019, Konya

Last night’s win means Turkey has taken maximum points from its opening three games to top Group H on nine points. On Tuesday, they will attempt to make it four wins from four in Euro 2020 qualifying when they face Iceland in Reykjavik.

France, who currently have six points after defeat against the Turks, will look to bounce back when they place Andorra on the same day.


Main photo top, İrfan Kahveci and Moussa Sissoko, Turkey v France, Euro 2020 qualifier at Torku Arena, Konya, 8 June 2019. Photo © Twitter / Milli Takimlar