The Netherlands’ hopes of making the Euro 2016 finals hung by a thread on Sunday after last year’s World Cup semi-finalists were convincingly downed 3-0 by a well-organised Turkey.
In front of 40,000 Turkish supporters creating a hostile atmosphere in the packed-out Konya arena, Turkey combined cohesion with physicality as the Dutch fell short in every department.
An early strike by Oguzhan Ozyakup of Besiktas was followed by a second from Barcelona’s Arda Turan and then a killer third from Burak Yilmaz.
The Netherlands’ star Turkey-based players Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie meanwhile failed to make any impact up front.
With the Czech Republic clinching qualification on Sunday and Iceland set to take the second automatic qualification spot going in Group A, Turkey and the Netherlands are in a straight fight for third and likely entry into the play-offs for the finals in France.
“Our fate is no longer in our own hands. I feel really terrible,” a devastated Van Persie was quoted as saying afterwards by Dutch media.
He emphasised the team still had a chance of going through if they won their last two games — away to Kazakhstan and at home to the Czechs — and Turkey slipped up. “We must carry on.”
Defeat was a body blow for new Dutch coach Danny Blind, who has now lost both his matches in charge following Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Iceland.
“We again shot ourselves in the foot,” Blind said, slamming the chances squandered by his players and the defensive errors.
“You make things incredibly hard when you let in easy goals,” he added.
– Dutch nightmare –
Ozyakup gave Turkey a dream start in the eighth minute, causing wild excitement among the Konya crowd including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who hails from the central region.
Rushing through from midfield, Ozyakup connected with an inch-perfect pass from Turan and slotted the ball neatly past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen as the Dutch defence vaporised.
The Dutch nightmare continued in the 26th minute when Turan surged into the penalty area past the hapless Stefan de Vrij to wedge the ball past Cillessen and the near post.
With the Netherlands misfiring in attack and defence, Georginio Wijnaldum could only head a chance metres wide in the second half despite being left unmarked.
Turkey’s tight defence piled behind the ball in the closing minutes and the lacklustre Sneijder and Van Persie never looked like scoring.
Burak Yilmaz of Galatasaray then hammered a devastating nail into the Dutch coffin in the 86th minute with a third goal following a spectacular solo run down the left wing by Caner Erkin.
Turan, Turkey’s talisman who signed for Barcelona from Atletico Madrid over the summer, performed sharply despite sitting out the start of the Spanish season due to the Catalan club’s FIFA-imposed ban on registering new signings until January.
But lacking match fitness and collapsing to his knees in exhaustion at the end of the first half, coach Fatih Terim substituted Turan in the 56th minute for Volkan Sen.
Terim hailed his players for turning round their insipid performance in Thursday’s draw with Latvia.
“I offer the players limitless congratulations and thanks,” he said. “The players turned the game in the way I want.” – Agence France-Presse