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Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Turkey seal dramatic qualification as Croatia edge through to France

Selcuk Inan was Turkey’s hero as his country secured automatic qualification to Euro 2016 with a last-gasp 1-0 Group A win over Iceland.

Needing victory to secure a passage to next year’s tournament in France as the best-ranked third-place team, Fatih Terim’s side were reduced to 10 men 13 minutes from time when Gokhan Tore was dismissed for a rash challenge on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

But up stepped Galatasaray midfielder Inan in the final minute of normal time to curl a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick beyond visiting goalkeeper Ogmundur Kristinsson and spark wild celebrations in Konya.

The Turkish party could only truly get underway when Kazakhstan’s win by the same scoreline over Latvia in Riga was confirmed, dropping the hosts to bottom place and meaning Turkey edged Hungary as the best third-placed team.

Iceland also progressed from Group A as runners-up to the Czech Republic, who ensured Netherlands were eliminated amid ignominy and a 3-2 defeat in Amsterdam.

Needing a win to keep alive any hopes of claiming a play-off spot at Turkey’s expense, Danny Blind’s men went 3-0 down to strikes from Pavel Kaderabek and Josef Sural and an own goal from substitute Robin van Persie.

Marek Suchy had been sent off by the time Van Persie headed into his own net, while the Fenerbahce striker netted at the right end after Klass-Jan Huntelaar launched a futile comeback in the 71st minute.

Croatia secured the second qualification spot in Group H courtesy of a 1-0 win in Malta and a 2-1 victory for group winners Italy over Norway, who head into the play-offs.

Ivan Perisic volleyed the only goal at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium, but his effort looked to have been in vain as Norway carried a 1-0 lead into the closing stages in Rome thanks to Alex Tettey.

But Alessandro Florenzi levelled with 17 minutes to play and turned provider for Graziano Pelle to seal the points in the 82nd minute.

Bosnia-Herzegovina sealed the play-off berth in Group B through a pulsating 3-2 win in Cyprus.

Haris Medunjanin curled a 14th-minute opener into the bottom corner but Cyprus, who could have secured third place themselves with victory, turned the game on its head as captain Constantinos Charalambides and Nestor Mytidis found the net.

Medunjanin crashed home a timely second and substitute Milan Djuric dispatched a decisive header midway through the second half.

Belgium ensured they finished the campaign as Group B winners – Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard on target in a 3-1 victory that ended Israel’s play-off hopes – while Gareth Bale scored his seventh of the campaign as second-placed Wales beat Andorra 2-0 in Cardiff.

Bulgaria beat Azerbaijan 2-0 in the Group H dead rubber. 

Tue 13 Oct, 2015
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