A Nuri Sahin goal late in the game was enough to give Turkey victory over Australia in their first ever appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Championship. The midfielder of German extraction secured the points for the Europeans when it looked odds on that the two teams would share the spoils in Lima's National Stadium.
The result leaves Abdullah Avci's men second in the Group behind Mexico, 2:0 winners in the early game against Uruguay.
Given the reputation of both teams, it came as no surprise to see a very physical battle in the Peruvian capital. With neither set of players shirking their tackles, and space at a premium game, both teams opted to play direct football.
The last-gasp winner from the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, though cruel on the Oceania side, was a reward for the courage and tenacity of a European side undaunted by their championship debut. In fact, Abdullah Avci's men looked sharper throughout, especially with the ubiquitous Tevfik Kose finding space and linking up well with Nuri Sahin and Ozgurcan Ozcan, who were a constant threat to the Australian defence.
"We were superior to Australia principally because we never stopped going forward. We showed that we can play at a high level, though we should have settled matters long before we did," remarked Abdullah Avci afterwards.
Though the lion's share of the chances fell to the Europeans, their early efforts on goals only served to enhance the reputation of the Australian keeper Alex Vrteski. The Sorrento player first made a fine stop from Kose, and moments later was on hand to gather a clever back-heel that caught the defence almost completely by surprise. He made one other notable stop to deny Ozcan with a fine effort on the half-turn, moments before Aussie striker Robbie Kruse saw his attempted lob of Volkan Babacan just come up short. Although the Joeys relied heavily on counter-attacking and had a few promising moments, it was Turkey who had the last good chance of the first half, a well-hit strike from Caner Erkin which cannoned off the crossbar with Vrteski beaten all ends up.
Australians take game to Turkey
The pendulum seemed to swing in the direction of Ange Postecoglou's men early in the second half, with Nathan Burns breaking free down the left and teeing it up for the incoming Kruse. Unfortunately for the Australian, the Turkish keeper was again equal to the shot. Moments later, it was the turn of Wade Oostendorp to throw his hands up in despair after squandering a good header right in front of goal. However, Australia's period of domination was brought to an end when they almost fell behind to a Kose effort after a terrible defensive mix-up in the six-yard box.
After that chance, the watching supporters went quiet as both teams eased off the gas. The stalemate was broken, however, with a few of chances in quick succession that saw a Kruse effort pushed wide by the Turkish keeper Babacan, Kose waste a seemingly unmissable header, and Vrteski brilliantly pull down a goal-bound effort by Deniz Yilmaz. Just when everything looked set for a draw, a half-turn and shot from Turkey's star man Sahin broke the deadlock, and Australian hearts (1:0; 84'). It was too late for the Oceania side to turn things round as their coach Postecoglou explained afterwards: "We were outplayed in the second half, but despite that we still had a few chances to score. Turkey's goal came so late in the game that we had no time to get back on terms."