Dominant Turkey too strong for China (5:1)
Despite a courageous fight-back at the start of the second-half, China could do nothing to prevent Turkey from sailing to victory in their quarter-final tie at the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005. The Iquitos crowds witnessed a dominant display from the Turks that left a doughty Chinese team reeling, and few would argue with the view that the European champions are now among the hot favourites for the global title. They can now start preparing for the semi-finals, where they will face either Brazil or Korea DPR in Trujillo on 29 September.
"We gave 100% as always and performed to a very high level," enthused Turkish coach Abdullah Avci after the match. "I'm happy and proud of the way we played, especially because it provided the crowd with some great entertainment. And that makes me pleased because the people of Iquitos have been very warm towards us. I'd really like to salute them."
Conditions that could only be described as tropical greeted spectators and players alike in Iquitos, and it soon became clear that Turkey were more comfortable plying their trade in the 36°C heat. Ozgurcan Ozcan signalled their intent with an effort from the left with only six minutes on the clock, and the Ottomans did not have to wait long before finding the back of the net. Tevfik Kose was the player responsible for the breakthrough and he displayed great talent when, after being set free on the right by Nuri Sahin, he breezed past Cao Gu, cut inside and blasted his shot in at the near post (1:0, 10'). In spite of the sweltering temperatures, the public were quick to show their approval.
China struggled to get to grips with the encounter, but encouraged by the fantastic atmosphere generated by around 25,000 fans, they did their level best to hit back. Xuanhong Wang found himself in a decent position soon after when a free-kick eventually fell at his feet. Unfortunately, his shot flew harmlessly wide (16').
That was more danger than Turkey were prepared to countenance though, and they rapidly set about putting the game out of their opponents' reach. Ozcan worked himself into space on the left, only to fail to spot Sahin lurking unmarked in the middle (25'), but some nifty teamwork eight minutes later would more than make up for that lapse. Sahin whipped in a corner, Deniz Yilmaz flicked on at the near post and Caner Erkin was presented the easy task of stabbing the ball into an empty net (2:0, 33'). The calm assuredness of the Turks was impressive to watch and the Chinese looked set for more misery as long as they remained completely invisible in midfield.
Flurry of Turkish goals after China raise hopes
At the interval, Ning Zhang attempted to spice things up by bringing on Jian Yang for Yifan Zhu in midfield. It would take more than that to knock Turkey out of their stride though, and when the excellent Erkin broke down the left wing, he cut back perfectly for Sahin to rifle in an unstoppable shot (3:0, 54'). That looked to be the end of the match as a contest, but the plucky Chinese mustered an almost immediate response through Jinjin Gu, who stole the ball from Erkan Ferin in the area before beating Volkan Babacan (3:1, 57'). "That goal came from a defensive error on our part," explained Avci afterwards. "We absolutely have to avoid that kind of thing in the future." Wherever the goal came from, the Asian side suddenly began to believe in their chances.
The match slipped into another gear as a spectacle and, in a sumptuous piece of approach play, Deniz Yilmaz put substitute Aydin Yilmaz in the clear only for the Galatasaray man to blast over (67'). Seconds later, the action switched to the other end and Dabao Yu had the ball in the net after an interlude of confusion in the Turkish area. His goal was ruled out for offside, however (68').
The Turks had ridden out the storm and they began to look like adding to their tally. Kose came especially close when he collected a pass in the area, beat a defender and dribbled past the goalkeeper but his effort was blocked on the line (80'). The Bayer Leverkusen forward was not to be denied though, and, having been expertly set up by Aydin Yilmaz, he hit his third goal of the competition with consummate ease (4:1, 88'). The Europeans were not finished there either, and a beautifully curled shot from Erkin in stoppage-time rounded off a commanding performance (5:1, 90'+1).
The next challenge for Abdullah Avci's charges will come from either Brazil or Korea DPR in the last four, but after this score-line and the superb manner in which they went about their task, they have sent out a clear warning to anyone else hoping to lift the trophy. "I'm not at all concerned about who we face in the semi-finals," declared the Turkish coach. "Whoever it is, we'll take them. What interests me is my own team."
In the Chinese camp, Ning Zhang could not hide his disappointment: "We made an enormous amount of mistakes in this match and we never got over the first goal. I don't think we were able to cope with the pressure. I'd like to wish the Turks good luck and I have to say that, as far as I can tell, the quality on view in FIFA youth tournaments just doesn't stop improving."