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4-min read

Turkey Hold Iceland to Goalless Draw to Qualify for Euro 2020 and Take Along France

Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Turkey's goalless draw with Iceland not only booked their berth but also France's.

AFP

Updated:November 15, 2019, 9:41 AM IST
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Turkey Hold Iceland to Goalless Draw to Qualify for Euro 2020 and Take Along France
Turkey and France qualified for Euro 2020. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Istanbul: Turkey booked their place at Euro 2020 on Thursday after a goalless qualifying draw with Iceland which also sent world champions France to next year's finals.

With two teams qualifying from Group H, leaders Turkey are four points ahead of third-placed Iceland with one match remaining after the stalemate in Istanbul, with France a point behind Turkey in second.

"We are so happy that we have qualified for the Euro. Now we have one more game to play, and then we'll focus our clubs until March," said Turkey's Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu.

Iceland needed to win to have any chance of qualifying thanks to their inferior head-to-head record with the French but will now have to hope they make the playoffs at the end of the qualifying phase.

"We came here four points adrift and Turkey are such a strong team. We did everything we could," said Iceland forward Mikael Anderson.

"We came close to getting the result we wanted, but it wasn't enough."

Didier Deschamps' France would have qualified for the Euros with a win over Moldova later on Thursday regardless of the result between Iceland and the Turks -- who have been rejuvenated since Senol Gunes returned to take charge in February -- and can now move top of the group. Former national team goalkeeper Gunes took Turkey to third place at the 2002 World Cup during his first spell as manager between 2000 and 2004, and guided his team to qualification with relative ease, beating and drawing with France and losing only one match. That upturn in form comes after a dreadful slump under previous coach Mircea Lucescu that saw Turkey fail to qualify for the last year's World Cup in Russia and relegated to third-tier League C in the UEFA Nations League. The hosts largely kept Iceland at bay in a match of few chances, but had to thank Merih Demiral for making sure of qualification when he brilliantly cleared Hordur Magnusson's header off the line with eight minutes to go. That was Iceland's only shot on target of the whole match, and sparked a frantic finale as the away side pressed for a winner and Turkey looked to snatch the win on the break. Both sides had good attempts blocked by defenders as the clock ticked down, and Yusuf Yazici almost won the match in dramatic style when his daring lob beat Hannes Halldorsson but grazed the bar. GIROUD PENALTY LIFTS FRANCE Olivier Giroud converted a late penalty as France staggered to a 2-1 win against a Moldova side ranked 175th in the world on Thursday hours after securing a place at Euro 2020.

World champions France, who lost the Euro 2016 final as hosts to Portugal, were guaranteed a ticket to next year's tournament before kick-off in Paris following a 0-0 draw between Turkey and Iceland.

However their hopes of turning the final home qualifier into an evening of celebration at a chilly Stade de France were compromised when Vadim Rata punished abject defending to give Moldova a shock ninth-minute lead.

Raphael Varane levelled for France 10 minutes before half-time, triggering furious protests from Moldovan players and their coach who argued goalkeeper Alexei Koselev was fouled by Giroud.

The Chelsea forward grabbed the winner from the spot 11 minutes from time after Lucas Digne was cut down in the box to leave France two points clear of Turkey at the top of Group H.

France round out their qualification campaign away to Albania on Sunday in what will be Didier Deschamps' 100th match in charge while Turkey travel to Andorra.

Deschamps recalled Kylian Mbappe and N'Golo Kante from injury here while Giroud was handed a start despite playing just 20 minutes for Chelsea since last month's international break.

Turkish coach Engin Firat, who replaced Semen Altman as Moldova boss two weeks ago, could not have dreamed of a better start to his reign when Clement Lenglet twice failed to head clear and Rata muscled his way past the Barcelona defender to poke beyond Steve Mandanda.

It was just the third goal Moldova, who lost 4-1 to France in their opening qualifier last March, had scored in nine group matches.

France created a series of chances in reply with Benjamin Pavard volleying low past the far post before Giroud stabbed wide from close range.

Mbappe then sliced over from a tight angle and drew a sharp stop from Koselev with a 20-yard drive while a diving Giroud again headed wide.

Varane hauled the hosts level with a fiercely disputed equaliser as Koselev spilled a free-kick under pressure from Giroud, allowing the France captain to nod home and sparking an angry reaction from the visitors -- with Firat booked for his touchline protestation.

Mbappe, who sat out the October fixtures with Iceland and Turkey due to a thigh complaint, was denied by a courageous block from Ion Jardan near the hour mark but Moldova's brave resistance was ended on 79 minutes.

Veaceslav Posmac chopped down Everton left-back Digne inside the area and Giroud confidently stepped up to side-foot home the spot-kick for his 39th international goal, leaving him two adrift of France great Michel Platini.

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