Iceland – Turkey: Comeback kid Pétursson spoils Turkey's World Cup party
Ref.: José Francisco Pérez Sánchez
L 1: Joaquín Ramos Marcos
L 2: Teodoro Valdés Sánchez
Written by: kaltz
With just five fixtures left of this qualifying group, the race was heating up. The top spot was still the Soviet Union’s to lose, but second spot was very much up for grabs, and Turkey, who had played some good football hitherto in the qualification, seemed to have as good a chance as any to progress through to next year’s World Cup. They had, however, suffered defeat in their last outing, which dated as far back as May 10, and due to progress being made by Austria since Turkey had last been in action, today’s visitors had dropped back in the pecking order. This game could be seen as the Turkish’ game in hand, though, and they would overtake Austria for second place on goal difference were they to win. Iceland, on the other hand, had been severely beaten at home by East Germany in their previous outing, and they were already out of World Cup contention. They were nevertheless unlikely to surrender easily in this their final qualifier, and with a depleted squad they’d already won a point off the Turkish away from home early in the qualification.
The table read as follows prior to kick-off:
Iceland team news
The big news since Iceland’s last outing was obviously the departure of manager Sigfried Held, who had gone and joined his Turkish club side Galatasaray full time, after he’d held both managerial positions since earlier in the summer. The former West Germany international, who had been on the losing side in the 1966 World Cup final, had been told by his new employer back when he was hired that there was ‘no way’ he would be allowed to still be in charge of Iceland when they were faced with Turkey. Held’s assistant, the 42 year old Guðni Kjartansson, had been placed in temporary charge of affairs.
Having lost two qualifiers in succession, Iceland were out of World Cup reckoning prior to this match. This did not mean they saw this game lightly, as they were seeking to redeem themselves following a disastrous performance and 3-0 home defeat by East Germany only two weeks earlier. They’d been without a few vital players defensively, and Kjartansson had needed to address this in his squad selection. Fortunately for him, he could call upon important players such as goalkeeper Bjarni Sigurðsson and wide right defender Ólafur Þórðarsson; the latter had been suspended last time around. However, there was still no Sigurður Jónsson, as the midfielder had not been released by his English club team Arsenal, who had played a second round first leg tie in the League Cup the previous evening (a 2-0 home win against second division Plymouth).
Big defender Atli Eðvaldsson had missed out on both previous qualifiers, and was yet again absent. His fellow central defender, and vice-captain, Sævar Jónsson was also not in the squad. This was due to his booking against the East Germans, which was his second yellow card since his return from suspension owed to the red card he’d received in the away fixture against GDR. Another player missing was Scotland based striker Guðmundur Torfason. He had started their last six qualifiers, although some of his performances had been relatively bleak. Since two weeks ago, there was also no Friðrik Friðriksson, Ágúst Már Jónsson (he’d been in the originally selected squad, but had since withdrawn for whatever reason), Ómar Torfason, Viðar Þorkelsson, Guðmundur Hreiðarsson and Pétur Arnþórsson. This meant no less than six of the starters from last time out were not even in the squad, and that a total of eight players had been replaced among the 16.
Among the eight players coming into the squad, perhaps the most surprising was the recall of striker Pétur Pétursson, the 30 year KR player, who had not featured at this level since playing and scoring against Norway in a 2-1 home win in the previous qualification just over two years ago. As second choice goalkeeper, uncapped Ólafur Gottskálksson of ÍA had been selected. Defender Gunnar Oddsson had been an unused substitute in Iceland’s two last qualifiers, and seemed a decent bet for his first start. The composition of the back five, if Kjartansson would indeed continue to employ the same formation as his former superior, was an interesting case due to the absence of such players as Eðvaldsson and (Sævar) Jónsson. And how about the central position among the three in midfield, which had been held by either Ómar Torfason or ‘Siggi’ Jónsson?
New to the squad were also Einar Tómasson and Haraldur Ingólfsson, both possible debutants at this level. Replacing the originally selected Már Jónsson in the squad was Fram’s Kristinn Jónsson (how many Jónssons were there at or around national team level in Iceland in this period of time anyway? Another candidate was surely even Kristján Jónsson, a formerly capped defender).
Turkey team news
Coming into such an important qualifier having not played a match for more than four months was hardly the ideal preparation for Turkey. Furthermore, they had been deprived of arguably two of their most influental players in forwards Tanju Çolak (who had recently paid famous sports doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt a visit) and Rıdvan Dilmen (lung problems related to his asthma), who both were absentees. Other than the six goals that those two had conjured up between them, only midfielders Ünal and Oğuz had got on the scoresheet so far in Turkey’s qualification. Manager Tınaz Tırpan must have been cursing his luck. The whole nation had been on the edge of their seats in the summer months, with Turkish TV broadcasting live a few of their fiercest rivals’ qualifying fixtures. Now, it was time to prove to the world what this highly exciting generation of Turkish footballers were all about, and set the country up for its first World Cup participation since 1954, indeed their only participation to date.
There had been a common thread through Tınaz’ team selections thus far, albeit he had been tinkering with his formations depending on the nature of the opponent. In their five qualifiers, they had been set up in four different formations, only utilising 4-4-2 twice in succession for their first two fixtures. 4-3-3, 5-3-2 and 5-4-1 had since been their combinations, and it would be interesting to see how the manager would approach this game. Having dropped down to third place behind Austria, and indeed with East Germany now breathing down their necks, Turkey badly needed to get something from their visit to Reykjavik, preferably a win. They had dominated today’s opponents during the 1-1 reverse fixture at the start of the qualification, but had struggled to tuck away their chances on an evening when ace striker Tanju had been off form.
For their 1-0 home loss against the Soviet Union, Turkey had been without influental midfielder Oğuz Çetin. The 26 year old Fenerbahçe ace was back again here. Twelve of the 16 who had made up the squad for the USSR game were available to Tınaz, with the two said strikers as well as Gökhan Gedikali and Erdal Keser absent. Coming into the squad as their replacements, in addition to Oğuz, were Müjdat Yetkiner, Rıza Çalımbay and Hakan Tecimer. The latter was a possible debutant, working as a midfielder with Fenerbahçe. Surely, this would be a fine opportunity for Beşiktaş striker Feyyaz Uçar to claim a starting place, as the marksman had surprisingly fallen behind in the pecking order under Tınaz.
No less than seven Turkish players had started all of their previous five qualifiers: Recep, Semih, Cüneyt, Gökhan (Keskin), Ünal, Tanju and Rıdvan. Goalkeeper Engin had come in and done previous number one Fatih proud through his two performances hitherto; Fatih had been through that dreadful ordeal with the tragic accident back in January.
41 year old Spanish referee José Pérez Sánchez would take charge of his first ever match at international level. Sadly, he would pass away at the age of 68 in 2016. He would record no further international participation.
One of his assistants, Joaquín Ramos Marcos (43), had been rated ‘best Spanish referee’ for the 1988/89 season, and would be so also for the current season (1989/90). The other linesman, Teodoro Valdés Sánchez (45), was another experienced referee in the Spanish top flight.
This was the fourth ever meeting between Iceland and Turkey. They had been paired also in the qualification for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when Iceland had won both encounters. Coupled with the 1-1 draw in Istanbul at the start of the current qualification, this meant that Turkey had yet to defeat Iceland, something which could perhaps be seen as a bad omen prior to this qualifier which certainly meant more to Turkey than to the hosts.
|1 Bjarni Sigurðsson||28||Valur|
|2 Gunnar Gíslason||28||Häcken|
|3 Gunnar Oddsson||24||KR|
|4 Rúnar Kristinsson||20||KR|
|5 Þorvaldur Örlygsson||29′||23||KA|
|6 Arnór Guðjohnsen||28||Anderlecht|
|7 Guðni Bergsson||24||Tottenham|
|8 Ólafur Þórðarsson||24||Brann|
|9 Sigurður Grétarsson||sub 71′||27||Luzern|
|10 Ásgeir Sigurvinsson (c)||34||Stuttgart|
|11 Pétur Pétursson||30||KR|
|12 Ólafur Gottskálksson||21||ÍA|
|13 Einar Páll Tómasson||20||Valur|
|14 Kristinn Jónsson||25||Fram|
|15 Haraldur Ingólfsson||19||Akranes|
|16 Ragnar Margeirsson||on 71′||27||Fram|
|1 Engin İpekoğlu||28||Beşiktaş|
|2 Recep Çetin||82′||23||Beşiktaş|
|3 Semih Yuvakuran||26||Galatasaray|
|4 Cüneyt Tanman (c)||33||Galatasaray|
|5 Gökhan Keskin||23||Beşiktaş|
|6 Yusuf Altıntaş||sub 64′||28||Galatasaray|
|7 Üğur Tütüneker||sub h-t||26||Galatasaray|
|8 Ünal Karaman||23||Malatyaspor|
|9 Hasan Vezir||27||Fenerbahçe|
|10 Oğuz Çetin||26||Fenerbahçe|
|11 Hakan Tecimer||13′||22||Fenerbahçe|
|x Süleyman Kocakara||30||Zeytinburnuspor|
|x Müjdat Yetkiner||27||Fenerbahçe|
|x Rıza Çalımbay||26||Beşiktaş|
|15 Feyyaz Uçar||on 64′||25||Beşiktaş|
|17 Mustafa Yücedağ||on h-t||23||Sarıyer|
Last time when Iceland had been in action, two weeks earlier, Reykjavik had welcomed both them and visitors East Germany with large amounts of rain prior to kick-off, and although this had subsided by the time the game had gone ahead, the downpour would return during the second half. On this occasion, though, there was no sign of wet from the sky. However, in the low afternoon sun, there was a whole lot of wind, and this would play in favour of the Turkish visitors during the opening half, as they sought to gain the upper hand on their hosts right from the off.
Facing the wind, the home side would kick the game into motion through experienced campaigners Sigurður Grétarsson and Pétur Pétursson. The latter might not have taken part so far in the current qualification, but with 35 previous caps to his name, he was by no means a stranger to the international climate. The lean, fair-haired striker had won a starting berth due to the non-appearance of Guðmundur Torfason, and he would seek to increase his tally of five national team goals.
A look at the hosts
The opening ten minutes are rather unremarkable. For those among the travelling contingent of supporters, and despite the distance, there are a fair few in the main stand with Turkish sympathies, who had been thinking that Turkey would go all out attack in an attempt to tighten the screw on an opponent without a whole lot to play for, they’d have been left disappointed, as Iceland took early control of the clash. They might have been without a target man to play long balls from the back to, but nevertheless their approach was a direct one, often aiming balls into the channels for their strikers to chase. This was also a recipe which had been in use under departing manager Held, when in particular Grétarsson had been flexible and often coming out wide. His territory had usually been along the right, and it seemed so once again. His strike partner Pétursson was a tad more anonymous initially, perhaps treading water after having been out of the national team for so long.
It did not take long to recognize the Icelandic formation as 5-3-2, exactly what they had been using in all their previous seven qualifiers. However, with the squad more or less revamped since only two weeks earlier, there were a few new players to associate with a number of positions. Between the sticks, though, Kjartansson would’ve been convinced that Bjarni Sigurðsson would not let him down. The 28 year old was a very solid custodian who had delievered a fine qualifying campaign, and Friðrik Friðriksson had been unable to make a telling contribution as his replacement against East Germany.
The libero position certainly belonged to Tottenham defender Guðni Bergsson, and him alone. He had played every qualifying minute thus far, and in his favoured shirt number 7 he was once again at the heart of the Icelandic defence. However, he had to see a pair of ‘new’ players directly around him, with Gunnar Gíslason coming in as the right-sided centre-half, the role usually held by Sævar Jónsson. Gíslason had also started each of their now eight qualifiers, though usually he’d been playing at left-back. He had deputised for the suspended Ólafur Þórðarsson at right-back against GDR, but had now been thrust into a more central position. Being of solid, if not tall, build, he would surely be up to the task against a not too physical Turkish front line. As the left-sided central defender, Kjartansson had decided to hand 24 year old Gunnar Oddsson his international debut. Oddsson had stepped into the shoes of Ágúst Már Jónsson, who had withdrawn from the current squad after initially being selected, though the risk seemed minor due to the terrible performance that Oddsson’s team mate at KR (Reykjavík) had given against the East Germans.
With Þórðarsson back in the squad after serving his one game ban, there was little doubt that he’d win back the right-back berth, whilst the left-sided full-back role on this occasion went to Þorvaldur Örlygsson. Örlygsson had so far not played a single minute of the qualification, but he had been an unused substitute on no less than four occasions. Hailing from Akureyri club KA, the 23 year old appeared to come into the side with a lot of enthusiasm, and it had seemed like a change had been in demand along Iceland’s left hand side defensively, as both of Már Jónsson and Viðar Þorkelsson had endured something akin to personal nightmares against East Germany. Willing to come forward in the early stages, something which had often been lacking from either of Iceland’s full-back positions, Örlygsson seemed like a breath of fresh air.
In midfield, veteran Ásgeir Sigurvinsson yet again played in his favoured inside left role. On this occasion, the Stuttgart captain had indeed claimed the armband also in the national team. This was the first time during the on-going qualification that the 34 year old had been given this honour. Opposite Sigurvinsson, in the other inside midfield role, was the expressive Arnór Guðjohnsen, the Anderlecht based player. He had been a big miss when he had missed three successive qualifiers, until he had returned for the GDR home game. However, he had not been fully fit then, so it remained to be seen whether he could reach his usual high standards on this occasion. His opening was promising; he sought to involve himself a great deal. However, this had also been the case last time around. He needed to make a more lasting contribution today.
Playing in the holding midfield role, something which had brought about a whole lot of speculation pre-game, was 20 year old Rúnar Kristinsson. This was the KR man’s ninth appearance with the flag on his chest, but it was his first start in the qualification. For sure, Kjartansson would’ve liked to have available to him Sigurður Jónsson, but with the Arsenal man not being released for this international, Kristinsson appeared to be an intriguing choice for the central among the three midfield positions. Ómar Torfason had played there whenever ‘Siggi’ Jónsson had not, but being equipped with a lot less aggression, and also very much being a one-paced player, he had failed to excel. Kristinsson, like Örlygsson, seemed to bring a new level of enthusiasm to the side, something which could only be described as positive. It remained to be seen whether he had the physical attributes necessary to play in this role on a more permanent basis, but against a side more renowned for their ability to play rather than ‘fight’, Kristinsson could well be expressing himself.
Having relied a lot on set-pieces attack wise thus far in the qualification, would perhaps Iceland seek to keep the ball along the deck more frequently now Held had departed? This remained to be seen. Initially, they had wished to engage Örlygsson along the left hand side, something which seemed interesting enough. Wide play inside the opposition’s half had been lacking in most of Iceland’s matches since the start of the qualification. Örlygsson, looking quite fleet-footed, was not afraid to provide an outlet and even to take a man on. This seemed to bring a new dimension to their play. In fact, Turkey boss Tınaz had identified Iceland’s flanks as their most vulnerable positions (he had probably meant defensively), though he should’ve been careful to have based a lot of his judgement on their performance last time around. Örlygsson, by the way, got scythed down twice in the space of two minutes early on, and whereas Turkey skipper Cüneyt had been lucky not to receive a yellow, his team mate Hakan had not had the same level of fortune after his foul: The first booking of the game appeared just after twelve minutes, and deservedly so. Hakan’s foul had been typical of a ‘striker’s tackle’, whilst Cüneyt’s had arguably been of a more cynical nature. Örlygsson, to his credit, got back on his feet quickly, even if he had felt a bit reluctant after Hakan’s tackle. Striker Pétursson presented himself for the first time in the game from the subsequent free-kick, which Sigurvinsson swung into the area with his trusted left foot. The Iceland number 11 got to the ball on the far post, but could not aim his header goalwards.
Turkey suffered without their usual front pair
The game has no real flow or pattern to it; proceedings are dominated by the strong winds. Initially, Iceland had arrived with enthusiasm and caught Turkey somewhat off-guard, but as the visitors were starting to settle in their stride, they had begun to exert some sort of domination, even if they were far from their fluent best. They did at times profit from having the wind behind them, as Sigurðsson’s goal kicks rarely reached the halfway line. However, it was quite apparent that Turkey were without their regular forwards, as neither replacement for Tanju or Rıdvan had made their mark yet. Turkey had been used to operating with the latter in the channels or even out wide towards the right, and it did seem to be his role that debutant Hakan Tecimer was wanting to give his interpretation of. However, the Fenerbahçe front runner was lightweight, and against a sturdy Icelandic defensive line he had little opportunity to make an impact. With the other striker’s role going to Hasan Vezir, who had also been prefered ahead of Feyyaz as a second half substitute in the home game against the USSR, it was left to these two to minimize the loss of two such influental players. Both Tanju and Rıdvan were being monitored by bigger clubs on the continent, and they were hard acts to follow. Hasan was of larger size than Hakan, and so appeared to be the one they’d look to in battle with the hosts’ central defenders, but he had little energy and flexibility about him, and so he usually fell short when the ball was played in his direction.
Turkey’s best opportunity yet had come on the quarter of an hour mark, when Ünal, the excellent Malatyaspor midfield man, the only player in their eleven not to hail from either of the three Istanbul giants, had struck a low shot from the right edge of the penalty area. Ünal was equally good with both feet, and on this occasion he’d used his right boot when the ball had arrived to him from right-back Recep. Iceland ‘keeper Sigurðsson made a meal of it, as he could’ve let it pass (it would’ve gone into the side netting), and when he got down without being able to hold on to the ball, Hakan showed momentarily something of a predatory instinct in following up. He got to the ball and had a shot from close range, but Sigurðsson was able to block it. Had he not, it would’ve ended up in the back of the net, and the Valur goalkeeper would’ve looked a fool. Good thing he’d been able to redeem himself after the initial mistake.
Iceland, on the other hand, had found the early moments of pressure difficult to sustain, and their two forwards had not seen an awful lot of the ball. Their midfield had not always looked so coherent, even if Kristinsson as the most defensive player in the trio had done what he could to adapt to this role. Both Sigurvinsson and, in particular, Guðjohnsen were eager to join in attack, so at times there could be a lot of space to cover for the 20 year old KR man. Guðjohnsen had done well when approaching the Turkish penalty area with the ball at his feet after 25 minutes, and playing a couple of one-twos with Grétarsson, the latter had teed himself up for a shooting job on the edge of the area. No Turkey defender had been able to keep up, and so the Luzern man could deliever his shot without an opponent in immediate proximity. Grétarsson’s effort was wastefully hit over the bar when he ought to have done better.
A view on the visitors
Turkey had arrived with a defensive line consisting of five players, and the five players at the back were yet again the same ones who had been present for their matches against East Germany (away) and the Soviet Union. With Engin İpekoğlu taking over so well from the tragically hapless Fatih Uraz, there had been little discussion about the goalkeeper’s position. He’d moved to Istanbul to team up with Recep Çetin and Gökhan Keskin at Beşiktaş during the summer. Through his penalty save from GDR’s Matthias Lindner in Leipzig, Engin had been highly instrumental in winning the Turkish the two points against a strong opponent, and not just through that save. He had done well again against the USSR, keeping the scores down.
With the five man being positioned like last time around, here’s a reminder of how they were set up: Recep at right-back, where he would not be too bold, even if he would cross the halfway line given the opportunity. Semih Yuvakuran, their left-back, was more daring, often willing to engage in play way down the left hand side. He did lack precision in his crossing, something which had also been seen earlier in the qualification, though on this occasion he could probably hide somewhat behind the fact that the wind was severe.
Sweeping up behind the two more conventional central defenders was Gökhan, who was emerging as one of Turkey’s young stars. The Beşiktaş man was only 23, and this was his only ninth international. However, some of his appearances had clearly belied his international stature. So far in this encounter, though, he had predominantly kept himself at the back, but he did certainly possess ability to join in going forward. Ahead of him were the experienced Galatasaray duo Cüneyt Tanman (captain) and Yusuf Altıntaş, who had 40 caps between them. In a Turkey with constantly low appearance figures, this was reasonable. Indeed, with Semih on 18 caps, it was the Galatasaray trio of players in the side, all defenders, who were team leaders in this department. Cüneyt had skippered Turkey in each of their six qualifiers by now, and he was a very competent defender, equipped with a good jump for someone of his relatively modest size, and not least great leadership qualities. He could instigate from the back, and not infrequently would he embark on runs across the halfway line. Cüneyt would probably do so a bit more sparingly on this occasion than when they were on home turf, but he still provided his midfield with assistance from time to time. Yusuf, on the other hand, was more your typical man-marker, and he would often be seen in combat with Grétarsson. Less than cultured, he would also be prone to booting the ball forward when given the chance.
During their emphatic 3-1 home win against GDR, the Turkish midfield had shown what qualities they possessed. It had been the same three starting that match as this one, although Tınaz had since that delightful triumph failed to recreate the level of dominance that those three had exerted on that occasion. With the three very well capable of interchanging positions, they had been lined up from start identically to that time, with Fenerbahçe playmaker Oğuz as the more central among the three. To his right was the typically inspired Uğur, whose performances since that Istanbul evening had failed to live up to the same standards. The Galatasaray player had been substituted in both of his previous qualifiers. To complete midfield was Ünal Karaman towards the left. He would be the one player among them the least willing to settle in one particular position, as he would seek to engage in play more or less all across the midfield. This made him a difficult man for opponents to pick up, and on his day his close control was absolutely sublime. At 23 years of age, the moustached midfield ace appeared to have the world at his feet, although consistency could’ve been a problem. However, he had possibly been Turkey’s best player so far in the qualification, and it was not as if he were without competition.
The game is a bit of a start-stop affair, with the referee having to take action due to some niggling fouls. There rarely appears to be any malice, but conditions continue to play their part, as getting the ball under control often demands an extra touch. This is not just due to the gales out on the pitch, but also because of the surface, which is far from good. It does appear green from a distance, but, surely, the players have quite a different understanding of it, as they are the ones tasked with performing. And even the better technically fit players at times struggle; it is not often you see a player like Sigurvinsson kick the ball into touch when he is aiming for a team mate only a few yards away.
Some proof of the game holding little animosity between the teams comes when Iceland kick the ball out of play so that Yusuf can receive treatment in the centre circle. It had been the second time the big Turkey defender had gone to the ground, and the culprit on this occasion had been Guðjohnsen. Oddsson had dutifully kicked the ball across the touchline, giving the Turkish medical staff the opportunity to come on and look after their player. This was not always commonplace, so the sporting gesture was followed up by visiting right-back Recep throwing the ball back to the home side as a token of their appreciation. When the game’s second caution occurs with just over 28 minutes play, it is hardly the nastiest challenge in the history of world football. It is more the level of sabotage which Örlygsson has performed on Turkey forward Hasan, who had been looking to counter along the left. The Iceland #5 trips him before he can reach the halfway line, and it looks accidental more than something of mal intent. However, the referee could point to the fact that Turkey were probably robbed of a counter-attacking opportunity.
Arriving at 35 minutes, Iceland have probably had the better of the recent exchanges. Their midfield certainly does seem like one of higher quality now with Kristinsson, who is tigerish in the tackle and also not afraid to take an extra touch, and succeed, in tight situations, in the centre. He might be young and of little international experience, but Kristinsson without much doubt has more to offer at this level than someone like Ómar Torfason. He also benefits from having such gifted players around him as the highly charged Guðjohnsen and the elegant Sigurvinsson, who might at times have left Kristinsson with plenty of space to cover in midfield, but when Iceland are in possession, they are a cut above. Sigurvinsson has a moment where he shows his class, playing Þórðarsson down the right hand side. Semih manages to intervene before the Iceland right-back is able to get a cross in, but the Stuttgart star’s pass, with his weaker right foot, measured so precisely in the troublesome head wind, was a joy to behold.
The Turkey midfield has won plenty of praise in the qualification hitherto, and rightly so, but they do find it difficult to get going here in Reykjavik. Various factors might be the reason for this, but it could perhaps be argued that Ünal has made greater contribution when playing in the deeper, central position, the one held by Oğuz from kick-off in this tie, than out wide. Yes, he had offered a lot from an inverted left-sided role in the opposite fixture, but little has come through his flank yet, and for a player of his undoubted calibre, he would’ve benefitted from being involved to a greater extent. Uğur might be Tınaz’ prefered choice to play alongside Ünal and Oğuz, but quite frankly, he has not managed to live up to the expectations which the home fixture against GDR had brought. As for Oğuz? Well, he could’ve been the player among their midfield three who suffered the most from the heavy wind. Not that he seemed out of sorts, but he struggled to measure his passes with usual precision, and he did not get on the ball as often as he would’ve liked. On 35 minutes, he had an attempt from 25 yards out, almost from the same angle as the shot which Ünal had made Sigurðsson gift Hakan a rebound earlier, though the central midfielder’s effort goes low wide of the ‘keeper’s upright by a good three yards. It served as to underline his somewhat disappointing performance thus far.
Closing stages first half
Admittedly, Turkey do manage to tighten the screw on the hosts a little towards the end of the first half, when they are mainly camped inside Iceland’s half. However, their shifting the ball about does not happen at great pace, and Iceland defend with relative comfortability what little attacking threat Turkey pose. The visitors do not use a lot of width, often cramping their play through the centre, and although forward Hakan had started lively on his international debut, he had more or less disappeared completely by the end of the half. His forward partner Hasan had been pulling somewhat out towards the left hand channel, perhaps to avoid so much direct confrontation with the home side’s central defenders. Yet, he had far from had much say on proceedings, and one could see how Turkey were suffering without their usual front two. A headed effort following a diagonal Recep free-kick which sailed well wide was the best the Fenerbahçe front man had delievered in terms of goal threat.
In fact, despite their lack of possession towards the end of the half, it had been Iceland who had posed the greater threat, although they had not worked Turkey’s solid stopper Engin to a great deal. They had made their way forward along the right in a well-timed counter-attack which had involved Guðjohnsen and Þórðarsson, and when the right-back had lifted the ball into the area for Grétarsson to try and run on to, the Turkish ‘keeper had come racing out and got to the ball ahead of the home striker. Great anticipation. Later, he would have absolutely no trouble in collecting a poor Pétursson header from the centre of the area after Þórðarsson again had been able to deliever a cross from the right. The striker had not had a highly visible first half, but he seemed to have the knack of getting into decent positions. His finishing still needed to be worked on, though.
Half-time and no goals. If the wind would continue to play its part, both teams would need to adapt to the opposite conditions after the break. A point was perhaps not a bad result for Turkey, whose crunch home fixture against Austria was coming up next.
With goalless at half-time, the hosts would probably have fancied their chances now they were playing with the wind behind them for the second half. There was nothing suggesting that the force of the wind had diminished, and so Turkey were about to experience what the hosts had endured during the opening 45 minutes.
One player change had been made for the start of the second half, with the visitors taking off Uğur and replacing him with Mustafa Yücedağ, a 23 year old midfielder from Sarıyer, another Istanbul club. Mustafa had previously during the qualification played the full 90 minutes both in the 3-2 defeat in Austria and also in the 1-0 home defeat by the USSR. He had seemed like a wide alternative in both of those fixtures, appearing right and left in midfield respectively. So how would their midfield shape up now? Would they be making any changes in formation to accommodate Mustafa in a wide position, or was the player, now winning his fourth cap, capable of playing in more central areas?
Engin would have to intervene again early in the second half, as Iceland sought to make inroads along the right hand side of the penalty area, where the often aggressive Þórðarsson was not holding anything back in his run. The ball was bouncing high, and the Iceland number 8 proceeded to give the goalkeeper a solid kick right in his chest. Engin, however, did not make much of it, and even accepted Þórðarsson’s outstretched hand as the full-back retrieved after the situation had been cleared. Engin was just there to do his job as solidly as possible; he was clearly no attention-seeker.
Iceland start the half on top
If the Turkish had finished the first half stronger, then it is the hosts who are in the ascendancy early in the second half. They were taking charge in midfield, where Turkey were perhaps struggling to reshape following their substitution. Forward Grétarsson, who had been decent during the opening 45, made a lively start to the second period, again seeking wide, both right and left. He’d deliever from the right to set up an eventual shooting opportunity for Sigurvinsson from just inside the area, only for the home playmaker to have his shot blocked by left-back Semih. A minute later, Grétarsson would be down the left and aiming a cross towards the centre. However, the force of the wind carried the ball behind Engin’s goal, so the Turkish could draw breath after a barnstorming opening few minutes from the Icelandics.
Mustafa presents himself
Five minutes in, the visitors are down the other end trying to make life difficult for Sigurðsson. Þórðarsson had lost the ball dangerously to Hakan deep inside his own half, and the forward played a ball low into the central areas, from where substitute Mustafa would attempt an effort at goal from 25 yards out. It was one which was easy to gather for Sigurðsson, but at least Turkey were proving that they were capable of posing a threat towards goal despite the disadvantage of playing into the wind. Mustafa, it seemed, had slotted into the deeper, central midfield role, while Oğuz, who had held this position in the opening period, had taken over for the departed Uğur in the inside right role. Ünal would continue as the inside left alibi, although it did appear that his position was a wider one than that of the inside right man. Suspicions based on the first half performance of their midfield three could’ve been well founded: They had not performed as well as previously, and so even Tınaz had felt the need to remodel. It felt odd seeing Mustafa in the centre, after he had given wide interpretations during his two only previous appearances in the current qualification.
Hosts open the scoring
Eight minutes into the second half, the hosts move ahead. Goalscorer is Pétursson, more than two years since he had last been seen in action, and scoring, at international level. Yes, Iceland had come out of the blocks early in the second half like someone possessed, but it had appeared that Turkey were regaining their composure, and then Sigurvinsson is set up down the left hand side to aim a cross into the centre. The Turkish defence was hardly collected in this moment, and in particular Yusuf seemed to have cause to be disappointed with his own effort. He had perhaps been disturbed by Oddsson’s surprising dash towards the area, and though the ball evaded the Icelandic central defender by some margin, Yusuf, who attempted to push out from the centre of his own area in time to get his head to the ball to clear it, failed to connect. This meant that the ball travelled on to Pétursson, who by now was unmarked. He still needed to take the ball down and get it under control, something which he did brilliantly, setting himself up for a shooting chance with only Engin between him and the goal. He decided to place the ball low to his right, something which left the ‘keeper helpless. It had been a calm finish from a striker who had rarely participated during the opening half. All of a sudden, Iceland had moved in front. Turkey would need a response.
Yusuf’s continued struggle
Turkey central defender Yusuf had taken a couple of knocks during the first half, making him have the medical staff come on to the pitch on both occasions. He had failed to intervene in the moment prior to Pétursson’s goal, and he had generally seemed sloppy. Four minutes after the goal, he again failed to get to grips with an opponent, as Sigurvinsson was able to wriggle free on the edge of the area in order to set himself up for a shooting chance. You’d have put money on the West Germany based ace to at least hit the target with his favoured left foot, but perhaps did he let excitement get the better of him? Almost eight years had passed since he had last scored an international goal, and being equipped with the captaincy, he might’ve wanted too much. His effort was ultimately a disappointing one which went a few yards over Engin’s goal.
Turkey look for ways back into the game
Had the Turkish substitution made for a positive change for the visitors? In the first 13-14 minutes of the second half, it had been difficult to spot any improvement, as Iceland had largely been on top. However, could Tınaz’ wish perhaps have been to involve the creative Oğuz further up in the field? He now seemed to carry greater responsibility inside the opposition’s half, leaving Mustafa to perform the balancing act. Within the space of two minutes, Turkey twice succeed to thread a pass through the Icelandic back five in the space between libero Bergsson and right-sided central defender Gíslason. On the first occasion Hasan hesitates when faced with Sigurðsson, and the striker is eventually caught up with by the recovering Iceland libero, who get the ball away from danger in tandem with Þórðarsson. It had been Ünal who had picked the first of these two slide rule passes, and on the second occasion, Oğuz had copied the Malatyaspor man in finding Hasan, who suddenly, and probably surprisingly, was discovering pockets of space. He even managed to take the ball around the ‘keeper this time around, but seeing his angle somewhat steep, he completely miscued his finish, with the ball even failing to cross the byline from his diagonal attempt. Bergsson was again on hand to take control of the situation.
Prior to these through balls for Hasan, it should also be noted how right-back Recep had caught Iceland ‘keeper Sigurðsson off-guard from a free-kick out along the right hand touchline. The experienced goalkeeper had most likely been anticipating a cross into the centre, whilst Recep’s effort rammed the outside of the post! It would’ve been an embarrassing moment for the Valur custodian had the ball crept in at the near post. It was difficult to say whether or not it had been a deliberate act from Recep, and if he’d actually attempted to score, his effort for sure deserved praise.
With the Turkish now establishing something akin to dominance in the centre of the pitch, it appears they need reinforcements up top in order to break through the hosts’ sturdy defence. Yes, Hasan had made it through on two occasions, but he had seemed completely out of sorts when presented with the opportunity to finish. Tınaz knew he had a player among his four remaining substitutes who was capable of adding firepower, and since Yusuf had had a relatively poor day at the office among the back five, it seemed quite a natural pick to relieve the Galatasaray stalwart of his duties at this point and introduce Feyyaz Uçar. Everything seemed to point in the direction of a change in formation. Could it be so that Turkey would go 4-3-3, simply putting Feyyaz in among the two forwards, and letting Cüneyt and Gökhan handle central defence alone? Surely, they needed to start looking for a goal of their own were they to make an impact on the qualification race. Opting for a more attacking outlook could be a way to start.
Game turning into an open affair
Whereas the first half had been a relatively untidy affair, the second half was turning into quite a spectacle for the so-called ‘neutrals’ (I strongly doubt there were many). Turkey might have looked the more decent footballing side during the first 45, but they were being challenged for this tag now in the second half, with the hosts turning on the charm. This crop of Icelandic footballers were probably about as far from anyone’s definition of ‘total football’ as it could get, but they were a bunch of hard, honest workers, supplemented with some skillful ones. We remember how Sigurvinsson had hoisted quite a few long passes from the back in their previous qualifier. On this occasion he would only do this very sparingly, possibly owed to the fact that they were without a typical ‘target man’ up front with no Guðmundur Torfason available for selection. After a quiet first half, Pétursson, surely buoyed by his goal, had come to life, and he was making sure that the Turkish central defence, which now consisted of just two rather than three individuals since the latest substitution, was constantly kept on their toes.
At the back, Iceland did not always lend the most assured impression. The ease with which Turkey twice had sliced their defence open through the means of relatively simple forward passes had been somewhat alarming from a host point of view, and they never quite seemed to adjust the distance between Bergsson and his two central defensive colleagues. In particular, the gap between the libero and Gíslason appeared a vulnerable zone for the home side. Turkey challenged this space more than they did towards the other side, where debutant Oddsson was holding his own. Örlygsson outside of him was more anonymous after the break, but he was another committed performer, and there was rarely much inroad made from the Turkish right hand side, where Hakan was the main operator.
The Turkish did look decent going forward, and in fact this second half midfield, at least in an attacking capacity, seemed a better fit than the one which had included Uğur before the break. Mustafa was doing a sound job behind Oğuz and Ünal as the balancing act, although there were spaces opening up for the hosts due to the increasing desire to attack in search of a goal/goals from the visitors. This is what usually makes for an open tie, and this was no different. Despite the continued strong wind in favour of the hosts, the game was developing into something of a see-saw battle, with play switching from one half to another.
With just over 20 minutes left for play, disaster strikes for Turkey. Pétursson hammers home his and Iceland’s second goal of the afternoon. There had been some recent warnings, as Iceland had put a couple of testing crosses into the box from set-pieces, but goalkeeper Engin had dealt with them swiftly and confidently. Now, though, as they cleverly shifted play from the right hand flank, where they’d won a throw-in, Sigurvinsson opened up space for Örlygsson along the left with a deft little header. The Iceland wide left man played the ball inside towards Pétursson on one touch, and as it just cleared the head of right-back Recep, the striker had the ball bounce kindly for him to ram home a left-footed half volley with Engin soundly beaten. It was a peach of a finish; it was just the kind of strike you loved to see from your striker. Pétursson had put Iceland two goals to the good, and there was a long way back for the Turkish, even to claim a single point. They’d not had much time to adjust to their new formation since Feyyaz had come on, and now they even more desperately would need to get back on the attack. The home side, on the other hand, were eyeing their first victory in two years.
Iceland make their first change
To calm things down a little, Iceland caretaker manager Kjartansson decided to take Grétarsson off and replace him with Ragnar Margeirsson. The latter had typically played in midfield in all of his four earlier qualification involvements, and one could see how Guðjohnsen immediately moved up front to take over Grétarsson’s role. Margeirsson, who had scored Iceland’s peach of an equalizer in Salzburg two matches ago, went into Guðjohnsen inside right midfield position. Defensively, he was a slightly stronger player than Guðjohnsen, and so the switch made sense. They realized they were up against a decent opponent, and even if there was still almost 20 minutes still to play, a greater level of assurance was probably a wise tactical move.
The spectators are hardly allowed to breathe, as both teams continue to dish out opportunities. There’s a great chance for Turkey to pull a goal back immediately after Iceland have brought on Margeirsson, as right-back Recep joins in attack and has a diagonal shot from outside of the penalty area parried by Sigurðsson. Ünal pops up to convert the rebound, but yet again the home ‘keeper is alert, and somehow he manages to divert the ball away for a Turkey left wing corner kick. Ünal can hardly believe that he’d failed to score from the rebound, but he has no time to dwell as he quickly rushes out to the corner flag to dispatch the kick. Then next down the other end is an effort from Guðjohnsen, who seems to relish a lot the fact that he’s been moved back up front. He wins a challenge with Gökhan on the edge of the area, is a bit to the right of centre, and tries to curl the ball with his left foot towards the left angle of Engin’s goal. He fails to hit the target, but his intention was clear for all to see.
Another Turkish booking
Turkey have not managed to involve their latest substitute Feyyaz a great deal. He does flash a weak header well wide from a Recep cross into the centre, but he does seem to struggle with his positioning. In what is now a three-pronged Turkish attack, the order does appear to be Hasan to the left, Feyyaz in the centre and Hakan along the right, though there are moments when they have other ideas. Despite some interchanges of positions, there’s little enterprise from either, and they desperately need their midfielders to step up. This has not quite been the game for neither Ünal nor Oğuz. At the back, they have to contend with some massive, wind-assisted goal-kicks from Sigurðsson, causing a couple of hairy moments, and Semih gets it all wrong on one occasion when he concedes a corner with a backwards header from 25 yards out. Right-back Recep, who had been unfortunate when he’d struck the outside of the post earlier in the half, lets frustration get to him when he hacks Kristinsson down by the touchline, exactly on the halfway line. Time is running out for the visitors, and so may their World Cup aspirations.
A goal back!
Turkey have their goal back with less than five minutes left on the clock as Feyyaz does what he knows best. Semih had played a long ball forward which had ended up with Feyyaz, but as the striker’s run had been halted, the ball bounced in the direction of Hakan, who attempted a shot which bounced off Bergsson and fell invitingly for Feyyaz to have a strike with his left foot from inside the area. The ball had spun up in the air, and so he struck it on half volley. Sigurðsson, who only a couple of minutes earlier had foiled Feyyaz when the striker had been through one on one with him, albeit the substitute had taken a poor touch, was beaten for the first time this afternoon, and Turkey finally had a goal of their own. Was it a case of too little, too late, though?
Final few minutes
In the dying minutes, there’s little clear order in the Turkish ranks, at least from midfield and through to their attack. Mustafa is seen towards the left, Oğuz right or centre, and Ünal is trying to be everywhere. One also has Feyyaz moving wide left, and he even comes back into his own half to pick up the ball and set off on a mazy run which will in turn feed Ünal the ball. The technically gifted midfielder manages to tee up Mustafa, who has come into the centre, and the second half substitute finds a way to drive forward ball at feet. His momentum sees him attempt a shot from all of 25 yards, and with Sigurðsson beaten for the second time in only a few minutes, the home ‘keeper has to rely on one of his closest allies: the crossbar. Mustafa’s shot rebounds back into play having hit the bar, though Iceland manage to escape. They are desperate moments for a Turkey still eyeing a slim World Cup hope. There’s even an injury time header from Hasan, who’s crept into the centre, but he does not connect well after Cüneyt’s cross from the right. Moments after, the referee blows his whistle to signal the end to proceedings. Iceland have won their first qualifier at the eighth attempt; Turkey may have blown their chances of qualification.
Neither side managed to trump the conditions and dish out much in terms of inspiration during the opening 45 minutes. Whilst the hosts had looked full of running early on, they would struggle in the head wind as the half gathered momentum, and it was the visitors finishing much the stronger, even if they failed to cause serious trouble to Sigurðsson. Both sides were set up in 5-3-2, something which suited the hosts better than the Turkish. After the break, they soon moved ahead through Pétursson’s calm finish inside the box, and they would take a lot of inspiration from the goal, creating further opportunities. However, the visitors themselves were far from harmless, and it would take some monumental stops from Sigurðsson down the other end to prevent them. When Pétursson struck his second, though, it seemed as if it was all over for the Turkish, although, to their credit, they managed to pull a late goal back. Then, they hit the crossbar through Mustafa’s shot from long range, and ultimately they could’ve counted themselves a tad unfortunate.
1 Sigurðsson 7.6
two big rebound stops, albeit he’d caused those opportunities in the first place. Well-positioned, came racing out twice to foil the opposition, and claimed crosses when in demand. Very secure
2 Gíslason 6.9
his rather low technical level is hidden when he plays in central defence, and he coped well in battle with the Turkish forwards. Always playing on minimum risk
3 Oddsson 7.1
fine debut! Unspectacular, but in keeping things simple he is efficient. Mops up well, and has a fine understanding with both Bergsson and Örlygsson. The left hand side defensively is a radical improvement on the GDR game
4 Kristinsson 7.1
tigerish in the holding midfield role, but also with technical ability, and has it in him to direct a decent pass. Would usually let Sigurvinsson do the directing, but this promises well for the immediate future
5 Örlygsson 6.9
early enthusiasm somewhat hampered by two cynical fouls in quick succession, but redeemed himself, and never lost his confidence. Fine assist for Pétursson’s second goal
6 Guðjohnsen 7.1
early tenacity vaned off, but was rejuvenated when moving up top after Grétarsson’s departure. Has an eye for details, and also the technical knowledge to execute advanced improvisation
7 Bergsson 6.9
not so much in demand, as the two other central defenders were more often in combat. A couple of moments of hesitation in the first half, when he conceded corners, but the elements could’ve played their part in that
8 Þórðarsson 6.8
had been a big miss last time around, and was back in his typical style: full of combat. Yet, he was one of the home side’s less visible performers on this occasion, a through ball for Grétarsson apart
9 Grétarsson 6.9
working hard to create space for others, and his knack to come into wide positions made him a tricky opponent. Represented little direct goal threat. Probably sacrificed for increased defensive security
(16 Margeirsson –
comes on to add fresh legs to midfield. Less forward runs from this position than Guðjohnsen before him, but he does get to the byline to deliever a high ball for Pétursson to head just wide)
10 Sigurvinsson 7.3
always so composed on the ball, giving him added time in pressurised situations. Assist for 1-0, second assist for 2-0. A captain’s performance. Should’ve at least hit the target when he got himself into a shooting position after the break
11 Pétursson 7.5
you can’t fault a player who scores twice, even if it took him the first half to regain international confidence. Took his goals really well, and with some luck could’ve added another. Not very visible in open play
1 Engin 7.2
no chance for the two goals, and again gave a highly competent display. Came bravely out twice, and collected safely from set-pieces
2 Recep 6.9
unfortunate to hit the outside of the post with second half free-kick, and also unfortunate as the ball evaded him for Pétursson’s second. Örlygsson an early threat, but he adjusted his positioning well
3 Semih 6.7
struggled with some long kicks from Sigurðsson in the second half. A couple of solid recovery tackles, but much less an attacking threat compared to previously in the qualification
4 Cüneyt 6.9
not the captain’s display that Turkey would’ve hoped for, although he was not at fault for either goal. His few direct balls had little effect on the outcome
5 Gökhan K 6.9
may look nonchalant at times, but knows how to escape most situations with dignity. Could possibly have sniffed the situation when Pétursson scored his second? One forward raid which ended in a hopeless shot
6 Yusuf 6.3
disappointing showing from the big man, who took two first half knocks. Sloppy in possession and too easily rounded, though he challenged Pétursson alright in the air
(15 Feyyaz 6.9
on in order to add a goal threat, and succeeds when taking his late opportunity well. Had a poor header well wide earlier. Some indecision to his positioning, but showed how to move in front of goal)
7 Uğur 6.5
has relatively little influence on proceedings from his inside right position. Too much running inbetween in a midfield which does not excel like previously
(17 Mustafa 6.8
gave a decent interpretation of the central role in the second half, where he added depth to midfield. Almost an inside left late on, when he also had that tremendous 25 yard shot which smashed off the bar. Improved the Turkish midfield as a unit)
8 Ünal 6.7
a disappointment after his high standards earlier in the qualification. Struggled to have much impact from his somewhat wide role, and his set-pieces were also of poorer level than before. Should’ve scored from second half rebound
9 Hasan 6.4
looked a bit heavy on several occasions, and his movement was far from top notch. Ran himself free well on two occasions in the second half, but did not know how to finish
10 Oğuz 6.7
another player of whom much was expected, but he failed to get going. The deeper role not his best, and when more advanced second half, he did deliever a couple of ok passes. Overall, though: disappointing effect
11 Hakan 6.4
some early impetus gave hope, but quickly ran out of steam, and got nowhere when attempting his mazy runs. A rather peripheral figure out wide