Turkey stunned world champions France with a dominant and well-deserved 2-0 triumph in Euro 2020 qualifying on Saturday.
First-half goals from Kaan Ayhan and Cengiz Under sealed Turkey’s triumph as their revival under boss Senol Gunes continued at pace.
Turkey have won all five matches they have played in Gunes’ second stint in charge of the national team and they now sit three points ahead of France in Group H after three games played.
Their latest triumph, achieved in front of a passionate crowd in Konya, came against a France side who simply were not at the races and did not manage a shot on target.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 8, 2019
Tottenham pair Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sissoko and Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud were available for selection again after featuring in European finals and all three were included from the start in a strong-looking France side.
But the first half was a drab affair, with the game’s first real opening ending in the 30th-minute opener.
Under’s free-kick was smartly headed across the face of goal by Merih Demiral and Ayhan met it fiercely, nodding in from seven yards with a header that was too hot to handle for Lloris.
France were far too casual with the ball at the back and conceded again in the 40th minute when Paul Pogba was outmuscled by Burak Yilmaz, with Dorukhan Tokoz pouncing on the loose ball and playing in Under, who finished smartly from an angle.
France were in disarray as Demiral nodded a free header just wide and Deschamps made a double change at the break, introducing Kingsley Coman and Ferland Mendy in place of Blaise Matuidi and Lucas Digne.
But it made little impact as Lloris made smart saves to keep out Yilmaz and Kenan Karaman before he tipped a well-hit Mahmut Tekdemir effort over the bar.
Yilmaz nearly added a third in the 86th minute before France’s woeful night was summed up when Coman was booked for simulation when trying to win a late penalty.
What does it mean? Turkey seize Group H initiative
Turkey’s winning start to Euro 2020 qualifying leaves them three points ahead of France, who sit just goal difference ahead of Iceland.
And while it is extremely unlikely France will fail to qualify for next year’s showpiece event, only two nations will progress from Group H.
The result only increases the importance of France’s visit to Iceland, scheduled for October.
Under impresses suitors with star showing
A host of top English Premier League clubs have been linked with Roma winger Under and he showed exactly why with another eye-catching showing.
His delivery from set-plays was consistent and he took his goal with class.
Blunt attack misfires in every way
A forward line containing Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann should never be this quiet but none of the front three contributed in a meaningful way.
Turkey were compact and organised, it must be said, but fans have come to expect far more from the star trio.
Both nations are in action again on Tuesday, with France travelling to Andorra for a clash against a side who have won just one competitive match since 2004.
Turkey are on the road, too, and meet Iceland in Reykjavik.
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