Iceland ended Turkey’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia by beating them 3-0 on Friday evening.
The visitors were just far too strong for the struggling hosts as boos rang out at the New Eskisehir Stadium.First half strikes from Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Birkir Bjarnason wrapped up the game for the Ice Men before Kári Árnason added to the scoring only minutes into the second half. Iceland now sit top of their qualifying group with a clash against Kosovo to come as they hunt down qualification to Russia.
Hot start for the Icemen
Birkir Bjarnason earned the first opening of the game at the Eskisehir Yeni Ataturk Stadium as he blasted wide from distance. Burnley midfielder Johan Berg Guðmundsson also found space from just outside the penalty area but his drive was blocked.
Everton record signing Gylfi Sigurðsson also had a sighter but his shot was saved by Babacan in the Turkey goal. The former Swansea City man then played a key role in the visitor’s next opening as his corner found Hördur Bjorgvin Magnússon in space in the box, but the latter’s header was just too high.
Ragnar Sigurðsson and Kári Árnason were given presentable opportunities but failed to test the Turkish goalkeeper.
Iceland did eventually go ahead though not long later as Guðmundsson smashed into the top-left corner from close range following a fantastic cross into the box by Reading striker Jón Daði Böðvarsson.
The visitors almost doubled their lead minutes later but Magnússon’s header was well saved by Babacan as he stretched low. Iceland though did eventually stretch their advantage and it was Böðvarsson who played a key role yet again. Following excellent hold-up play in the Turkey box, the ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers forward played an excellent pass to Magnússon who finished powerfully into the net.
No mercy from Iceland
It was a similar story after the break as Iceland continued to be a huge threat. Finnbogason again tested Babacan with a precise effort before his shot from distance was saved by the Turkey goalkeeper. The stopper though was finally beaten, this time by Árnason. The Aston Villa man was in the right place at the right time to tap home Gunnarsson’s downward header following a corner.
Mircea Lucescu attempted to react by substituting Arda Turan for Emre Mor and it nearly bore fruit mid-way through the second period as the latter found the head of Mehmet Topal from a corner. The ball flew just inches over the bar however.
Turks meet a frosty reception
Although the hosts attempted to probe the Iceland defence, boos cascaded down from the stands as Turkey’s World Cup hopes all but ended at the hands of the Euro 2016 underdogs.
Bjarnason could have worsened the embarrassment but his shot from the centre of the box went just wide as Iceland earned a huge three points.
Despite both teams coming into the match pretty evenly matched, Iceland were by far the better side. Their clinical finishing and defensive prowess proved just too much for the hosts who were bitterly disappointing themselves.
As a result, the Turks’ hopes of World Cup qualification have now ended as they now sit fourth in Group I. Iceland meanwhile are in prime position to secure their tickets to Russia as they take on minnows Kosovo next time. They currently occupy top-spot in the group on an outstanding 19 points.
Turkey: Babacan (7); Ayhan (5), Topal (6), Söyüncü (5), Ercin (6); Şahin (4) (Tufan (5), 45′), Belözoğlu (5) (Malli (6), 78′); Tosun (5), Özyakup (5), Turan (5) (Mor (6), 60′); Yılmaz (5).
Iceland: Halldórsson (7); Sævarsson (7), Árnason (8), Sigurðsson (8), Magnússon (7); Guðmundsson (8), Sigurðsson (7), Gunnarsson (8), Bjarnason (8); Finnbogason (7), Böðvarsson (9).
Goals: Guðmundsson (32′), Bjarnason (39′), Árnason (49′)
Referee: Marciniak Szymon
Yellow Cards: Guðmundsson (16′), Söyüncü (40′), Turan (45′), Erkin (79′)
Red Cards: N/A
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