ISTANBUL: Turkey negotiated their toughest World Cup qualifying group game very well with a stunning 4-2 victory over the Netherlands, their coach Senol Gunes said on Wednesday.
Veteran captain Burak Yilmaz scored a hat-trick in the first match of Europe’s qualifiers for Qatar 2022 to inspire Turkey’s impressive home success at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
“This was the first and also the most important game on the way to Qatar,” Gunes, who was coach when Turkey reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2002, told a news conference.
“We really played at the top level, we did exactly what we had to do and what the game demanded of us. We managed to disrupt the attacking game of the Netherlands.
“But we also gave away something, we will have to look at that,” he said of two goals conceded in a two-minute spell in the second half as the Dutch threatened a comeback, reducing the deficit to one goal after going 3-0 down just after the interval.
The 35-year-old Yilmaz agreed with his coach.
“It was very important to start like this, we see the Netherlands as our biggest competitor,” he said. “We are happy and proud but we need to forget this victory as soon as possible, because tomorrow the focus must be on the game with Norway.”
Turkey play Norway in neutral Malaga on Saturday before hosting Latvia on Tuesday in the third of their qualifiers this month.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)