Football: Portugal beat Turkey 3-1 to edge closer to World Cup

Turkey player Burak Yilmaz celebrates after scoring a goal in Porto, Portugal, on March 24, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PORTO (REUTERS) - Portugal moved one step closer to reaching the World Cup with a 3-1 win over Turkey, whose striker Burak Yilmaz skied a penalty five minutes from full-time that would have drawn the sides level in their playoff semi-final on Thursday (March 24).

Roared on by a sold-out Dragao Stadium in Porto, Portugal dominated the game from the start and went 2-0 up in the first half after Otavio scored one goal and created another for Diogo Jota.

But Fernando Santos' side were pegged back by a Yilmaz goal in the 65th minute that put the Portuguese fans on the edge of their seats as Turkey started to threaten.

Defender Jose Fonte then fouled Enes Unal inside the area in the 85th minute to concede a penalty that Yilmaz fired high over the bar.

Portugal substitute Matheus Nunes relieved the pressure on the hosts in added time with their third goal from a counter attack.

After the game, Santos expressed his annoyance that Portugal had let their opponents back into the match.

“We can’t allow that to happen in a game we had under control, it’s a warning for next Tuesday,” Santos said.

“Today’s game is over and we have to focus on the next rival that will give us the game of their lives for sure. We’ll need extra focus playing at home in front of our crowd. The motivation has to be our main goal, going to the World Cup."

After missing out on automatic qualification in November, they will now host North Macedonia on Tuesday with the winner qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

North Macedonia had shocked Italy 1-0, meaning the European champions will miss their second World Cup in a row.

Santos warned his men to take North Macedonia seriously, noting their victory over Italy.

“We need to show the same respect to North Macedonia that we would to Italy,” Santos told a news conference.

“I told you before we could be playing them, those games are not a joke, it’s like a final and anything can happen. You have to face it with the focus and concentration that it deserves. A team that goes to Italy and beats the European champions doesn’t need introductions.”

 

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