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Turkey victory in dress rehearsal for World Cup qualifiers

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Aug 2008

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Euro-2008 semi-finalists Turkey beat Chile 1-0 in a hard-fought match that will raise their spirits before they start their campaign next month for a berth in the 2010 World Cup.

Halil Altintop scored the winning goal in the 74th minute as the Turks finally organized themselves against the Chileans who stretched their rival's defence with fast attacks led by striker Humberto Souza.

The result was a sigh of relief for Turkey coach Fatih Terim who was facing his first real test after his team made it to its first European championship semifinal this summer in Austria and Switzerland.

Although hit by a recent spate of injuries, Turkey took the field with the backbone of the team that played in the Euro 2008, with Semih Senturk and captain Tuncay Sanli leading the strike force.

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa named a four-four-two starting formation that took the upper hand in the early stages of the game and taxed the Turks with runs from Souza.

Still, the Turkish side had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Senturk sent a header wide of the left post. Within seconds, the Chileans hit back after striker Mark Gonzales, coming in from the left, forced keeper Volkan Demirel to make the first save of the game.

In the 35th and 36th minute, Senturk could have set up two goals with his passes to Sanli and midfielder Mehmet Aurelio, but both men sent the ball over the crossbar as they were face to face with Chile captain Claudio Bravo in the goal.

In the second half, the Chilean side proved a real danger for the Turks with Souza making several forays into the box, ratcheting up the pressure on Demirel.

In the 59th minute, the Monterrey striker slid into the penalty area from the left and moved past Demirel only to have his shot saved by defender Gokhan Zan. Minutes later, he aimed a header that was saved by Demirel.

But the Turks were the ones to celebrate in the 74th minute when Altintop, who replaced Senturk in the second half, came into the penalty area from the left and slid the ball past Bravo into the goal.

In the 79th minute, Souza almost equalized for Chile with a header that slid past Demirel, but, luckily for the Turks, was turned off the line by defender Ibrahim Kas.

Turkey are set to start their battle for a place in the World Cup in September with a clash against Armenia followed by one with Belgium. Chile are currently fourth in their South America zone qualifiers.

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