Turkey booked their place in the last eight of the FIFA U-17 World Championship after a thrilling 2:3 win over Group B rivals Uruguay at Lima's National Stadium. The result was also good news for Mexico, winners earlier in the day, who now join the European champions in the knock-out stages. For Uruguay and Australia, second successive defeats mean the end of their Peruvian dreams, and there will be no more than pride at stake when the pair meet in their final game.
After the match, Abdullah Avci was in jubilant mood, saying: "We are very proud of what we have achieved tonight. It was a difficult game, but I believe we were worthy winners. We will continue to give our best and improve further. Hopefully now we can go on and win our group."
Turkey started in determined fashion, knowing that only a win would guarantee them a place in the last eight. It came as no surprise to see them bossing the game early on and trying to monopolise possession. Leading the charge for Abdullah Avci's men was Nuri Sahin, who orchestrated all his side's best attacking moves. The first clear-cut chance fell to Tevfik Kose, who tested Jonatan Irrazabal's reflexes with a stinging left-foot drive. Next to ask a question of the Celeste keeper was Deniz Yilmaz, but he too was denied. However, the Galatasaray midfielder made no mistake with his second chance, rising high above the defence to head deftly home from a corner on the left (0:1, 12').
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The goal seemed to wake the Uruguayans out of their slumber. Soon they were competing for every ball and creating their own chances thanks to the audacity of Enzo Scorza and the power of Elías Figueroa. The striker, who was the leading scorer in the South American qualifying tournament, was not at his ruthless best, squandering two glorious chances to beat Volkan Babacan. The Turkish keeper, sharp throughout the first half, was later called on to fingertip Scorza's spectacular effort wide for a corner.
However, the Charrúas' efforts would soon be rewarded. Gerardo Vonder Putten broke free down the left before firing a powerful ball into the six-yard box. Babacan could do no more than parry the cross, and Murat Duduer, in a desperate effort to clear his line, ended up putting though his own goal (1:1, 28'). Buoyed up by their equaliser, the South Americans then pressed for a second, which they would have got had Martín Díaz been able to steer his shot home from just a few yards out.
Uruguayans go on the offensive
Uruguay continued to take the game to their European opponents, who seemed content to wait for their chances on the break. It was one such counter attack that almost put Turkey ahead, but Kose saw his right-foot effort smartly saved by Irrazabal.
Both sides came out unchanged for the second half, with Turkey enjoying the best of the early chances. Abdullah Avci's men even thought they had gone ahead through Kose at the near post, but his effort was ruled out for offside. Shaken by the scare, Uruguay hit back with a Marcel Román cross which the unmarked Gary Kagelmacher contrived to head wide. Abdullah Avci then decided to bring on Ferhat Bikmaz, and the midfielder made an immediate impact. First with a run and pass that Yilmaz narrowly failed to finish, and later with a powerful header that clattered off the crossbar and out of play.
The best was still to come. First Uruguay got their noses in front when Elías Figueroa capped some fine interplay in the Charrúa attack with a superbly struck left-footer (2:1, 75'). The South Americans' joy was short-lived however, with second-half substitute Ozgurcan Ozcan intent on spoiling the part. The Galatasaray striker raced onto a long pass, sliding his effort past Irrazabal (2:2, 80'). Before Gustavo Ferrín's men had time to gather themselves, Turkey were ahead. This time it was Kose who showed composure in front of goal as he fired his side in to the lead (2:3, 84').
With Abdullah Avci's men hanging on to their precious lead, the final minutes of the match were nerve-wracking in the extreme. Uruguay threw everything they had at Babacan's goal, but it held firm. The win and the night belonged to Turkey.
"We played with a lot of heart, and I think we deserved more than this. A year and a half's hard work went into this, and now we're leaving empty-handed. Nonetheless, we'll give everything we have in our final game and hopefully leave on a high," said an inconsolable Gustavo Ferrín afterwards.