Turkey’s 2022 FIFA World Cup hopes appeared to be fading fast last night until a Burak Yilmaz penalty nine minutes into added time gave them a priceless three points against Latvia in Riga.
Halil Dervişoğlu came off the bench for the final 16 minutes at the Daugava Stadium with Turkey trailing to Merih Demiral’s 70th minute own-goal. Within 60 seconds of Halil’s introduction Stefan Kuntz’s side levelled through Serdar Dursan, but, a point still didn’t look like it would be enough with second-placed Norway winning at home to Montenegro to open up a four-point gap with two to play. However, deep into stoppage time Yilmaz was fouled inside the area, the skipper picking himself up to dispatch the penalty and seal the three points.
The win means Turkey remain two points off second, and four off top spot in Group G. Turkey finish against Gibraltar and Montenegro next month with Kristoffer Ajer’s Norway hosting Latvia before a huge final day clash against group leaders Netherlands in Rotterdam.
Halil has two goals in seven senior international appearances, all of which have come in 2021.
Also in World Cup Qualifying last night, Patrik Gunnarsson was an unused substitute as Iceland cruised past Liechtenstein 4-0 at the Laugardalsvöllur.
Stefán Teitur Þórðarson opened the scoring after 19 minutes before a pair of Albert Guðmundsson penalties and Andri Guðjohnsen’s late effort sealed victory. Things got worse for the away side as Martin Marxer saw red just past the hour mark.
Results elsewhere mean Iceland still have a slim mathematical chance of finishing second and securing a Play-Off spot with two games remaining. Those games are both on the road, in Romania and North Macedonia, next month.
Patrik is still awaiting his senior Iceland debut, having been named in the matchday squad for their last five World Cup Qualifiers.
Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen will be celebrating qualification tonight if Denmark match Scotland’s result in Group F while Saman Ghoddos and Iran can also take a big stride towards Qatar 2022 when they host nearest challengers South Korea in Tehran.