Turkey – Soviet Union: USSR never let Turkey have a sniff as one goal settles it
Matchday 9 of the UEFA zone’s third qualifying group saw the Soviet Union, who two weeks earlier had annihilated GDR at home (3-0), travel to Turkish metropolis Istanbul for a clash between the top two of the group. Turkey had been the surprise package of this pool, and thanks to twice winning against East Germany, they now found themselves in a decent position to qualify for Italia ’90. However, they would now lock horns with arguably one of the biggest favourites among all of UEFA’s qualifying groups, and despite playing away from home against a team which has recently shown good form, there was no denying that the Soviet Union were still favourites. After some ‘hangover form’ in the wake of the 1988 European Championships, the were now seemingly back to their best. A party clad and packed İnönü Stadyumu welcomed the two teams onto the pitch.
Turkey team news
It had been four weeks since Turkey’s ‘smash and grab’ win in East Germany, when they had played with a high level of discipline in a defensive formation, weathering off a second half storm from the hosts, and having an excellent goalkeeper in Engin İpekoğlu, who was easily the man of the match in his first ever qualifier. Despite home advantage on this occasion, the Turkish would need to raise their game even further were they to get something from the Soviet Union. However, three straight national team wins, coupled with Galatasaray’s wonderful run in the elitist European club competition, made sure there was no shortage of confidence throughout the squad.
Of the 16 who had made up the squad in GDR, one player was missing. That was the highly influental Oğuz Çetin, the Fenerbahçe midfielder who had had a fine campaign hitherto. He would be shown next to the substitutes from television pictures during the game, but he was not listed among them. Neither had he picked up any bookings so far, so he was definitely not suspended. Injury appears to have been the probable cause for his omission. The addition to the squad had been forward Hasan Vezir, a team mate of Oğuz at Fenerbahçe. He would take his place on the bench.
With Turkey manager Tınaz Tırpan having proved to be something of a tinkerman in the qualification so far, the question was what kind of tactics he would pick for the meeting with the mighty opponents from Eastern Europe. We had seen 4-4-2, we had seen 4-3-3 and we had seen the Turkish in 5-4-1. What would it be this time around? And who would replace Oğuz in the starting eleven?
Engin İpekoğlu had come into the team due to the highly tragic circumstances regarding previous first choice stopper Fatih Uraz’. The Sakaryaspor ‘keeper had delievered a near faultless performance in Magdeburg, so even if Fatih had done well, the ‘keeper’s position still proved to be in capable hands. Back-up choice for a third qualifier running was the still uncapped Süleyman Kocakara of Boluspor, 30 years of age.
Defenders available to Tınaz were pretty much the same bunch which had been present during the whole of the qualification so far: Full-backs Recep Çetin and Semih Yuvakuran, as well as central defenders Gökhan Keskin and Cüneyt Tanman, would be making their fifth starts from five qualifiers. However, in their five man defensive line in East Germany, Yusuf Altıntaş had been drafted in to look after Andreas Thom, something which he had done with aplomb. When up against an opponent of this calibre, it was far from unlikely that Tınaz would again opt for five across the back, despite home advantage. Mücahit Yalçıntaş, who had played in their opening qualifier against Iceland, and since been an unused substitute against GDR (at home), was again out of the squad, so the only other defensive option among the 16 appeared to be Gökhan Gedikali, who so far had started once (in Austria) and come on as a substitute once (in East Germany).
With no Oğuz available to the manager in midfield, there would need to be a player coming into the starting eleven. Erdal Keser, who had come on during their 2-0 win in GDR, could’ve been a pick, with Mustafa Yücedağ another possibility. They were both relatively dynamic players, something which was needed in order to replace Oğuz. Still, there was such quality present as represented by Ünal Karaman, who had been one of Turkey’s star performers hitherto in the qualification, and as Tınaz had played Ünal in a few different positions, last picking him as the central defensive alibi, it remained to be seen what kind of role the Malatyaspor ace would have on this occasion. Another midfield option, and a most likely starter, was Uğur Tütüneker. The hard-working Galatasaray man was looking to be a selectee in the starting line-up for a third successive qualifier.
Up front were their two most internationally acclaimed players, with super goalscorer Tanju Çolak and Rıdvan Dilmen representing each their major Istanbul club. Tanju was the group’s leading scorer with four goals from four matches, and he had been in devastating form in both games against GDR. Rıdvan was known for his assisting, but he had also got his name on the scoresheet in Magdeburg. Tanju had returned him the favour on that occasion. Furthermore, there was Feyyaz Uçar, and now even Hasan Vezir. The two former seemed the most probable inclusions.
Soviet Union team news
It was time for the USSR’s second away match of the qualification, and only two weeks earlier had they won comprehensively at home to a beleaguered East Germany side to go top of the group on goal difference ahead of this afternoon’s opponents. With Turkey having played a game more, a point in Istanbul would surely be deemed a good result by Soviet manager Valery Lobanovsky. However, with the quality available to him, both individually and collectively, there would be no escape from a pre-match ‘favourites’ tag.
With just one change in the Turkish camp since their last outing, the Soviet Union squad had seen two new entries since their most recent fixture. Neither Vasily Kulkov nor Yuri Savichev, who had both come on as second half substitutes during the 3-0 win against GDR, were among the 16 selected, and so in-form Gela Ketashvili of Dinamo Tbilisi, a versatile defender and possible debutant at international level, and legendary forward Igor Belanov had come in.
Valery Lobanovsky had been using varieties of the 4-4-2 formation so far in the qualification, where seven of their players (Dasayev, Rats, Aleinikov, Litovchenko, Zavarov, Protasov and Mikhailichenko) had been starters for all three of their previous matches. The way they had acquitted themselves during that impressive win against the East Germans, it seemed unlikely that the manager would be changing around much. However, this was a tricky away fixture against an opponent which had shown certain qualities recently, so they needed to be aware of the possible threat that Turkey presented.
For a second straight qualifier, there was no Vagiz Khidiatullin in the squad; the France based, experienced libero was out injured. Further defensive absentees were also in the category of ‘highly experienced’, as neither Vladimir Bessonov nor Anatoly Demyanenko (broken ankle) were available to Lobanovsky, just like last time around. Bessonov had indeed only featured once so far, which had been in their opening match in Reykjavik, when the defender or midfielder had been withdrawn early in the second half as the USSR were chasing an equalizer. Sergey Gorlukovich, who had performed well for the Olympic team during their successful plight in Seoul in September ’88, could be making his second successive appearance as libero. Another option was the elegant Andrey Zygmantovich, or even Zygmantovich’ team mate at club level Sergey Aleinikov, who, however, seemed to aspire more as their holding midfield man yet again.
Young full-back Oleg Luzhny had coped well on his debut last time around, and with neither Bessonov nor Demyanenko among the 16, he could be a starting feature again. And Vasily Rats, more than capable of playing anywhere along the left hand side, would probably once more take the left-back spot. Igor Dobrovolsky had been the wide left option in midfield two weeks ago, and having scored an early goal then, he was a strong contender for retaining his place among the eleven. Players such as Aleinikov, Aleksey Mikhailichenko, Gennady Litovchenko and Aleksandr Zavarov were all given inclusions.
With no Savichev in the squad, striker Igor Belanov was back in the mix, though Oleg Protasov had seemed to be a Lobanovsky favourite of late, so the likelihood of the 28 year old starting on behalf of his Dinamo Kiev team mate appeared small. Moscow based forward Aleksandr Borodyuk was another alternative, though it was highly likely he would start among the subs. So too would back-up ‘keeper Dmitry Kharin, the 20 year old gold medal winner from the Olympic team, who had got his full international debut during the Soviets’ Middle East tour in the winter.
World leading French arbitre Michel Vautrot, 43 years of age, was in charge of the fixture. Having made his debut on the international stage as a 31 year old in a friendly between Spain and Hungary in ’77, the seasoned official was refereeing his 27th (!) international. He had made his first appearance officiating in a qualifier as a 33 year old, and had been selected both for the 1982 World Cup, where he took charge of the group stage match between Italy and Poland as well as the second phase game between Belgium and the Soviet Union, and the 1984 European Championships (ruling over the group stage clash between Portugal and Spain). He had somehow been overlooked for the 1986 World Cup, but he was back with a vengeance for the 1988 European Championships, when he had indeed been placed in charge of the final (from which today’s visitors had mixed memories).
This was monsieur Vautrot’s fifth game refereeing the Soviet Union (three wins and that defeat so far), whereas he’d only once previously been officiating Turkey: in a 0-0 home draw with Northern Ireland in the qualification for the 1986 World Cup.
The pair had a fairly comprehensive head to head collection, with this their 13th encounter. It would be an exaggeration to say that the Soviet Union were among Turkey’s prefered choices of opposition, as the Turkish had triumphed in only two of their earlier clashes. This was the fourth time, no less, that they had been paired in a World Cup qualification, as it had happened both prior to Chile ’62, Mexico ’70 and Spain ’82 as well. The USSR had won all six previous qualification meetings. One of Turkey’s two wins (1-0) had come on home soil in Izmir in qualification for the 1976 European Championships.
There had not been a lot of activity registered recently between them, though, as their last encounter had happened almost seven and a half years earlier, with the USSR winning 3-0 in the second of their two meetings ahead of the 1982 World Cup. Both teams had one survivor left from that clash, and incidentally both would wear the captain’s armband on this occasion: Cüneyt Tanman and Rinat Dasayev.
|1 Engin İpekoğlu||27||Sakaryaspor|
|2 Recep Çetin||23||Beşiktaş|
|3 Semih Yuvakuran||25||Galatasaray|
|4 Cüneyt Tanman (c)||33||Galatasaray|
|5 Gökhan Keskin||23||Beşiktaş|
|6 Yusuf Altıntaş||27||Galatasaray|
|7 Uğur Tütüneker||25||Galatasaray|
|8 Rıdvan Dilmen||26||Fenerbahçe|
|9 Ünal Karaman||22||Malatyaspor|
|10 Tanju Çolak||25||Galatasaray|
|11 Mustafa Yücedağ||30′||23||Sarıyer|
|12 Süleyman Kocakara||30||Boluspor|
|13 Gökhan Gedikali||23||Ankaragücü|
|14 Erdal Keser||27||Sarıyer|
|15 Feyyaz Uçar||on 59′||25||Beşiktaş|
|16 Hasan Vezir||on h-t, sub 59′||26||Fenerbahçe|
Soviet Union (4-4-2)
|1 Rinat Dasayev (c)||31||Sevilla|
|2 Oleg Luzhny||20||Dinamo Kiev|
|3 Sergey Gorlukovich||26||Lokomotiv Moskva|
|4 Oleg Kuznetsov||26||Dinamo Kiev|
|5 Sergey Aleinikov||sub 90′||27||Dinamo Minsk|
|6 Vasily Rats||36′||28||Español|
|7 Aleksey Mikhailichenko||26||Dinamo Kiev|
|8 Gennady Litovchenko||25||Dinamo Kiev|
|9 Aleksandr Zavarov||28||Juventus|
|10 Oleg Protasov||sub 88′||25||Dinamo Kiev|
|11 Igor Dobrovolsky||21||Dinamo Moskva|
|12 Gela Ketashvili||on 90′||23||Dinamo Tbilisi|
|13 Andrey Zygmantovich||26||Dinamo Minsk|
|14 Igor Belanov||28||Dinamo Kiev|
|15 Aleksandr Borodyuk||on 88′||26||Dinamo Moskva|
|16 Dmitry Kharin||20||Dinamo Moskva|
İnönü Stadyumu was party-clad, and the pre-match atmosphere was exactly like could be expected from a ground packed to the rafters with dedicated fans, supporters intent to let their voices be heard to try and spur the home team on to a memorable win. The small group of travelling USSR fans stood no chance of being heard in this cacophony of sounds, but there were a contingent of, what, 150-200 there. Heavily outnumbered, they had to see the hosts progress with first half initiation: Turkey’s forwards Tanju and Rıdvan kicked the game into life.
How the Soviets shape up
Commonplace in a match of this magnitude, or any important World Cup qualifier indeed, is that the two teams start the game gently trying to understand what the opposition is about. This game was no different. Turkey had been playing some attractive football hitherto in Group 3, whereas the Soviet Union had perhaps been more efficient than spectacular, with the first half in the recent home win against East Germany a fine exception. This was only their second away match, and for their first, in Iceland, they had lined up in their customary 4-4-2. What had Lobanovsky, who incidentally had not been well enough to be in charge for that match in Reykjavik, having handed over the reign temporarily to his first assistant Yuri Morozov, got in store for this tricky fixture in hostile surroundings?
Taking to the field with exactly the same eleven which had started that 3-0 win against GDR two weeks earlier, it could be argued that even the same formation had been implemented. Lobanovsky was indeed a 4-4-2 man, although there were usually some internal tweeks to the number combination, with players appearing not so rigidly stuck to a customary position within the 4-4-2. At the back, there seemed to be little change compared to last time around, with Gorlukovich continuing in the libero position through the continued injury absence of France based ace Vagiz Khidiatullin. He did have a somewhat more modest interpretation of this role: sitting relatively deep and rarely venturing forward. Gorlukovich’ perhaps main asset was his ability to read the game and identify what was going on in front of him. He would accelerate through impressive bursts of speed should the situation demand from him that he did. He was also more than qualified with the ball at his feet, although he somehow still appeared to be finding his way in the select. Perhaps was he realizing his position within the Soviet team hierarchy. He would surrender attacking responsibilities to anyone else.
Along the defensive flanks, there was still no Vladimir Bessonov nor Anatoly Demyanenko to be seen, and so the youthful and energetic Oleg Luzhny would continue his job along the right. He had given a fine account of himself during that 3-0 win against the East Germans, his debut at international level, but obviously he knew plenty of his team mates already, being one of Lobanovsky’s new prospects in the Dinamo Kiev side. Opposite was the experienced Vasily Rats, who seemed to be just as comfortable at left-back as he was when he was playing as the left-sided midfielder with Demyanenko behind him. He probably carried the finest left foot in the Soviet squad, despite the presence of Igor Dobrovolsky ahead of him. Centre-back in front of libero Gorlukovich was again Oleg Kuznetsov, the wonderfully gifted defender whose ability in going forward was second to none among players in his position. He had made crossing the halfway line ball at feet something of a trademark of his, and Kuznetsov, in the Lobanovsky system, was playing with far greater attacking freedom than the libero. At least when the libero was Gorlukovich trying to find his feet at this level. Tonight was the Muscovite’s eighth cap.
In midfield, the symmetry was more difficult to spot than in the backline. The excellent Sergey Aleinikov was typically sitting at the back, and in tough away fixtures even known for dropping as far back as the central defensive line, almost appearing as a third stopper. This match was clearly a difficult proposition for the Soviet team, yet Aleinikov’s opening to the match did not suggest that he would drop exactly that deep. Like had been mentioned about Gorlukovich, Aleinikov too was a tremendous reader of the game, being able to sprint in his stealthy manner towards a situation which has yet not occured in order to avert any danger. He was one of Lobanovsky’s most trusted men, and the Dinamo Minsk player seemed a naturalised Kiev-ite since long, easily blending in with the current and former Dinamo Kiev performers in the select. Also in the centre was Aleksey Mikhailichenko, who had played so well against the East Germans, and who on his best was a player of the finest art. Due to his elegance, it often got forgotten how strong physically Mikhailichenko actually was, but he was not afraid to get stuck in or to challenge anyone in the air. He had the natural features to be successful at either. However, most prominently he would distinguish himself through his presence high up the field, making runs either on or off the ball: Both seemed to come very natural to him. Mikhailichenko was the most central midfield player in this eleven, though he did seem to have a slight left bias in the opening stages, tending to appear towards the left of the centre circle.
Ahead of Mikhailichenko in the centre was Aleksandr Zavarov. Having departed to play for Juventus prior to the 1988/89 season, Zavarov was living the dream of any Soviet football player, and with all of his natural ability, he was certainly making his presence felt even in far away surroundings. He’d been scintillating for that Dinamo Kiev side which had brushed their way to European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph, and was so mobile, flexible and skillful in any aspect of the game that he would be a key player for any team in this era. He certainly was a major component in Lobanovsky’s tactics. At times, Zavarov would play as a second central midfielder alongside, or just ahead of, Mikhailichenko, although he was seen as a deep-lying forward in the hole behind lone striker Oleg Protasov. Zavarov often appeared to play with the level of freedom making him a difficult target for opposing players, shifting back and forward between midfield and his forward position, tremendously gifted in possession. It was far from untypical that he would assist Protasov, and knowing the number of Zavarov assists among Protasov’s numerous goals for club and country would’ve been very interesting. Here in Istanbul, Zavarov was in that role almost of a second central midfielder, at least during the opening stages, as both sides were getting familiar with one another.
Workrate was a well-known factor in Lobanovsky’s tactics, and few players brought more of this to the team than right-sided midfielder Gennady Litovchenko. The Dinamo Kiev player, one of five current and two former in this line-up, would be of very useful company to any right-back featuring for club or country, and he was not foreign to lending support to the full-back and then bombing forward to provide a crossed assist for either forward. Litovchenko was also well capable of working as an inverted wide player, offering his qualities in more central areas of the pitch, despite originally being positioned out wide. We’d seen this earlier during the on-going qualification, although on this occasion he seemed to predominantly stick to his right hand side. Opposite, down the left flank, was the gifted Igor Dobrovolsky, who had come into the side last year around the time of his successful Olympic campaign, where he had finished Soviet top scorer (six goals from six) on their way to victory. Here, Dobrovolsky’s position did seem to be a more forward one than Litovchenko’s along the opposite flank, as if to add to that leaning impression of their 4-4-2. Dobrovolsky would not be supporting the full-back on his side with the same level of frequency as seen by his right hand side counterpart. This meant that Lobanovsky saw him as an attacking threat, and an attacking threat which should be concentrating on the aspects of the game which would benefit the collective the most. Up top, there was the speedy Protasov.
The first 15 minutes show how the hosts give a lot of respect to the visitors, as the Turkish sit deep and await opportunities to go on the counter. The initial passages of play had been apprehensive from both, but as the clock ticked, the Soviet Union started to develope something of a grip. This behaviour was far from unnatural from Turkey, despite the fact of them being at home, that they were conceding possession to the visitors, as they were so well aware of what a gifted opponent they were faced with. Turkey had shown plenty of their counter-attacking nouse so far in the qualification, and this must again have been Tınaz’ ambition. However, this wish to first and foremost shut up shop did seem to take some of the sting out of the audience, which again played in favour of the Soviets.
A look at home tactics
Unfortunately for the hosts, they had been robbed of one of their star performers hitherto in the qualification, and the absence of Fenerbahçe midfielder Oğuz Çetin was clearly felt among their players. He had added a dimension to their play so far through his capability of holding on to the ball in tight situations, and he had also been intstrumental in releasing his team mate from club level, forward Rıdvan, with some fine passes down along the right hand side. Oğuz’ absence seemed to leave a gap in midfield, a midfield which had also been constructed differently on this occasion in comparison to what had been seen so far in the qualification. Not that this was something new, because Tınaz knew how to spring the odd surprise, but had he got the blend right this time around?
The Turkish had again chosen to start with five across the back, like they had during their smash and grab victory in East Germany a month earlier. On that occasion, soaking up second half home pressure had at times been difficult, but their defence and not least goalkeeper Engin had stood firm, and they’d come away with two massive points after a back to the walls kind of final 45 minutes. It was no great surprise when Tınaz had again opted for five across the back, despite the fact that the Soviet Union did not play with two outright forwards, like GDR had more or less done.
One of the great success stories of their qualification so far had been young libero Gökhan Keskin. The tall Beşiktaş defender had started out in a holding midfield role against both Iceland and Austria, but had since been converted into a libero, the position which had initially in the qualification been held by captain Cüneyt. Gökhan possessed great physical attributes, and he would be particularly vital at defensive set-pieces. He showed how he was maturing into a player of international rank, yet this was only his eighth cap, a similar number to that of his team mate from Beşiktaş Recep, the right-sided full-back. Recep was perhaps the more limited individual in the Turkish defensive line, but nevertheless had he made this position his own, featuring for the fifth time in the qualification. He was a fully committed player who would never shirk from any challenge, though he did not offer a whole lot of quality going forward. Both Gökhan and Recep were featuring in their own stomping ground, as the İnönü was where Beşiktaş played their home matches.
The members of the backline was beginning to know each other well by this stage of the qualification, although Yusuf Altıntaş was a relative newcomer to the table. He had been drafted in for the trip in behind the Iron Curtain, where he had looked after Andreas Thom with great efficiency. Being a robust central defender (and possibly also defensive midfielder), Yusuf had acted as a big presence at defensive set-pieces, adding to the already existing Gökhan and also skipper Cüneyt, who both were capable players in the air. In a side generally smaller in height than their opponents, these were vital factors, and even left-back Semih was someone who could give most players a challenge in the air. Along the ground, Cüneyt was clearly the more comfortable with the ball at his feet, and not infrequently would he cross the halfway line in initiating a Turkish attack. This was indeed a necessary feature in the Turkish game, as they would become tail-heavy at times in their 5-4-1 formation. They needed someone to contribute in the forward direction, and usually it would be one of the three central defenders, with Cüneyt the more likely (and capable). Yusuf and even Gökhan would also contribute, but on a smaller scale. Semih, who had earlier in the qualification shown a lot of desire coming forward from his left-back position, had clearly been given more restrictive instructions when Turkey were faced with alledgedly superior opposition. Again on this occasion, the Galatasaray man was holding back.
The strong-in-numbers backline gave way to a four man midfield further up the pitch. Perhaps was it odd to tag the always lively and shifting Rıdvan as a member of the midfield, but on this occasion it seemed right. Turkey had come into the game seemingly without a right-sided midfielder, although there must have been speculations pre-match whether Mustafa would hold this position. As it turned out, though, Mustafa Yücedağ, the 23 year old from Istanbul club Sarıyer winning his third cap, the second of this qualification, was positioned as the wide left member. He was someone quite gifted on the ball, and had during his sole qualification participation hitherto displayed a preferance of taking the ball into wide spaces. He had been the right-sided option when he had appeared in the Praterstadion in Vienna during Turkey’s 3-2 defeat.
In the centre of the pitch, the hosts had Ünal and Uğur. The former had been operating as the deep midfielder in their 5-3-2 in Magdeburg, but here, in tandem with the strong-running Galatasaray man, he was more a central right performer. Ünal had seemed to have struck up an almost telepathic understanding with the now absent Oğuz, and so it was an interesting observation to see how he would apply himself without the Fenerbahçe midfielder on board. Uğur alongside him was making his third appearance of the qualification, and though he was no mean player, he did not possess the technical ability of Oğuz (and surely also not of Ünal), and this was the first time the two had been in a tandem during the on-going qualification. Uğur brought a dimension to the team through his non-stop running and harrying, but he was hardly a creative outlet. Had Oğuz been available to Tınaz, it is likely that the manager could’ve opted for a whole different formation.
Rıdvan was fast becoming something of a household name across Europe by now, giving displays of relentless running, causing havoc and his already famous low centre of gravity control. He was a wonderful assistant to Tanju up front, usually keeping himself along the right hand side, from where he had already assisted for three Turkey goals since the start of the qualification. Two of these assists had been created for Tanju, and the Galatasaray striker fed off Rıdvan with great pleasure. Tanju had started the qualification poorly, but he had seemingly won some confidence back through his goal in Austria, and would be seen as a threat to any defence with his goalscoring ability. On this occasion he did seem to be somewhat isolated up top, as Rıdvan needed to keep usual width, but also to contribute inside his own half as a member of a midfield four rather than a front two. Granted, he was no great worker off the ball, Rıdvan, but seemingly he had few problems in sacrificing individual pleasure for the benefit of the team. He would remain a more forward option along the right hand side than Mustafa was down the opposite flank.
Soviets start exerting dominance
With Turkey sitting deep and effectively closing off areas which the Soviet players would’ve wanted to take advantage of, there is not a whole lot happening in front of either goal during a subtle opening half hour. So far, Tınaz appears to have got his tactics right, even if the hosts are unable to cause any inroads into Soviet territory. Indeed, the Turkey boss is not the only manager on display to have done his home work: Lobanovsky’s tactics also appear spot on in a difficult away fixture. Their gradually increasing control of proceedings must have been a fine testament to the manager for electing such tactics. They are able to shut off supply to both Rıdvan and not least Tanju, something which reduces Turkey to a minimal threat. The Soviet midfield are working their socks off, and there is not much time on the ball for either Turkey player in possession, and certainly not once they’ve crossed the halfway line.
Engin called into action
The first real effort on goal comes from the visitors, and Litovchenko has arrived inside the area to test Engin with a low diagonal drive from the right. The ‘keeper is more than equal to it, again giving a confidence image of himself, just like he had done when he had done so well to keep a blank a month earlier. Down the other end, the greatest impression left by any host player is when Mustafa goes barging into Dasayev just as the ball trickles across the byline. The Soviet players immediately surround the Turkey wide man, accusing him of foul play. The French referee sees it similarly, and he rewards the Sarıyer player with a yellow card for his studs first efforts.
Further opportunities from visitors
Once the Soviet Union have sussed out how to play their way through the Turkish defence, they would do so with increasing regularity towards the end of the first half, and it would, almost inevitably, give them the all important breakthrough. There would be times when the Turkish were unable to break out from their own half, with the Soviets turning the screw for a ten minute period of huge dominance. Their central midfield was instrumental, with Aleinikov instigating, Mikhailichenko probing, and with Zavarov always on the look-out for openings ahead of him. They seemed to be back to their dazzling best, did the USSR, and Protasov got played through in the area by Aleinikov on 34 minutes, drawing another save low from Engin, and less than three minutes later comes the Soviet Union’s biggest opportunity yet, when Rats knocks a ball into the centre from his left hand side. Protasov wins in the air against Yusuf, and Mikhailichenko’s made a good run into the box and is about to apply the finishing touch when Gökhan throws himself in to divert the ball over for a corner kick. It had been a big let-off for the hosts. Could they see the half out without conceding?
Only a minute and a half after Mikhailichenko’s opportunity, the Soviets have a disallowed goal, as the Turkish continue to lead a charmed existence. Litovchenko, one of many players in the visiting eleven well capable of threading a pass through, had spotted Protasov making a run ahead of him towards the right inside the penalty area, though as the striker’s fed the ball, he’s just offside, and despite his strike being a precise one, diagonally low into the back of the net via Engin’s upright, it is rightly called off. But, surely, how many warning signs do the hosts need? This had been the fourth Soviet attempt in the last ten minutes, and it only seemed a matter of time before the visitors would succeed. And indeed, next time around, they would not be denied. Soviet persistence paid off as Mikhailichenko had again made a burst through midfield, and playing a neat one-two with Protasov on the fringes of the area, he finished expertly with his left foot when face to face with Engin, low down to the ‘keeper’s right, just inside the right hand post. It was a lead very well deserved for the visitors, who by now were a side the Turkish could simply not live with. Lobanovsky’s version of ‘total football’ was a joy to behold.
After the goal and through to half time, the shell-shocked hosts are still unable to shake off their worries, and the Soviets give further examples of their control in possession, shifting the ball between their players at pace, leaving the home players to run between. However, right at the death, and perhaps as a result of Soviet over-confidence, the hosts do arrive at a shooting opportunity through Tanju from just outside the penalty area. Gorlukovich gets a block in just in the nick of time, and losing its sting via the defender, the ball trickles harmlessly into the hands of Dasayev. Could attacking intent be the way back into the match for the Turkish, though? They’d hardly shown any during the entire opening half, but should they get a result, they’d need to produce more going forward in the final 45.
As half-time arrives, the visitors go in 1-0 in front. In addition to home player Mustafa, the visitors had also had one of their players’ name taken, when Vasily Rats had been adjudged of dangerous play against Ünal out by the touchline. The Soviet left-back had raised his foot and caught the Turkey playmaker, though it had not seemed like an act of mal intent.
After a first half in which the hosts had showed the visitors quite a lot of respect, it remained to be seen whether the same game picture would emerge during the second half. Turkey could badly afford to lose should they stand any chance whatsoever to remain in the fight for group victory, but so far it had been a measured approach from the Soviet Union which had kept the hosts quiet. Yet, Dasayev had not had a single save to make.
As both teams lined up ahead of second half kick-off, it became clear that the home side had made a substitution. They had brought on Fenerbahçe forward Hasan Vezir, whose only involvement in the qualification until then had been a few minutes on the pitch as a substitute in the home fixture against East Germany. He’d even had time to earn himself a yellow. Being a striker at club level, it would be interesting to see how Tınaz would shape his side with Hasan on for midfielder Uğur. Surely, this meant a more attacking approach? The change would’ve come about for tactical reasons only, as there had been nothing to suggest that Uğur had been injured in the closing stages of the first half.
A thorough look at the Turkish changes
The Soviet Union had gradually developed a strong grip on the game as the first half had progressed, and the meaning behind Tınaz’ half-time change could’ve had something to do with the fact that the hosts had struggled against the away team’s midfield. The Turkish midfield four (or three, depending on where you’d put Rıdvan: Some would claim he was playing up front to the right of Tanju, whereas it could also be suggested that he was appearing as an attacking-minded right-sided midfielder) had not so often had it their own way during the opening 45. Now Uğur, who had earlier complemented Ünal and Oğuz so well in a threesome, had been withdrawn. Mustafa, whose first half performance had not been brilliant, though he had kept plucking away in his left-sided role, mainly operating off the ball, and probably having a say in Litovchenko not always running the show along the Soviet right flank, was yet not quite of the same stature as the player he was filling in for. The absence of Oğuz weakened the Turkish midfield, even if Ünal was again displaying his immense talent, at least in glimpses.
It quickly became evident that Tınaz had altered his team’s formation. They had been sitting quite deep in their 5-4-1 during the first half, and the introduction of Hasan, a relatively robust looking player, for Uğur meant that they were now three up front. The new formation appeared to be 4-3-3, with Cüneyt abandoning his position at the heart of the defence in order to take up the holding midfield role. Cüneyt had so far in the qualification shown his credentials when it came to carrying the ball in the forward direction, and with his experience and not least his ability to read the game, he would seem a good fit for a defensive midfield position. For the second half, he would be working behind a tandem of Ünal (right) and Mustafa, who would be displaying the Turkish legs in midfield. Perhaps was Ünal’s best position not that of an inside half in a three man central midfield, but he was creative enough to be able to stand out even there, despite the role demanding a lot of running. To Mustafa, a shift of endeavour appeared to come more naturally. Though despite his useful stamina, he was also no mean player when it came to technical ability, even if he was far from the level of Ünal.
With Cüneyt moving from the backline and into midfield, only libero Gökhan and man marker Yusuf remained at the heart of the Turkish defence. Though with the Soviet Union only playing with one advanced striker in Protasov, the hosts could definitely afford to see their captain making a step forward. From his new position, Cüneyt would be able to monitor better the intricate movement of Soviet advanced playmaker Zavarov, who had been difficult to pick up for the Turkish during the opening 45. Yusuf had looked after Protasov quite well, although he had shown some vulnerability when having to stretch his legs; Protasov’s pace saw him carry an advantage on his marker.
Hasan, the new addition, would take up the centre-forward position. Perhaps did this seem somewhat odd, as one would think that Tanju, the naturally gifted goalscorer, would be sitting in the middle, feeding off the other forwards, but Tınaz had shifted Tanju out into a left-sided striker’s role. Needless to say, Rıdvan was the right-sided player among the three. Hasan appeared to move well, looking to take Kuznetsov out of position, and so it would seem that the Soviets would need Aleinikov to keep an extra eye on proceedings behind him. Tanju, who had had a bleak first 45, with only that late, blocked effort to show for, could now concentrate on gaining the upper hand against a much more youthful opponent in 20 year young right-back Luzhny rather than the seasoned Kuznetsov. Perhaps would this suit him better, although to the striker’s defence it should be added that he had not received a lot of workable balls in the opening half. Turkey would need this new formation to gel. They had indeed been a threat in 4-3-3 during the home game against East Germany, when they had steamrollered their visitors.
Visitors displaying their class
The Soviet Union were conducting themselves masterfully in what was, after all, very hostile conditions, where the Turkish crowd from the outset had tried to get under their players’ skin. However, this was an experienced Soviet eleven, and one which two weeks earlier had shown their class, and indeed their current form, by dismantling GDR piece by piece. They had been performing in similarly difficult surroundings earlier, and the whole team’s showing proved that they carried an expertise in dealing with such situations: They never allowed themselves to get stressed, to lose their cool or to let the situation get to them. They just continued playing football in the manner which they knew: Shifting the ball around their team, and having players flexible enough to appear in one position in one instant, and then in another position in the next. In particular the Soviet midfield worked as well-oiled pistons, where pressure on opponents was a big element. Turkey were never allowed any peace and quiet on the ball, and for this the hosts were always needing to search for a level of pace which perhaps did not suit them. The Soviet team’s workrate saw to that Dasayev was yet completely untroubled, and now, despite the more attacking intent from the hosts, they continued to demonstrate their indifference towards the external frames of the fixture. Such was the confidence among their players. Yet, it was sort of a credit to the Turkish that they were still in the contest. They were a decent side themselves. Four and a half minutes into the second half, libero Gökhan manages to thwart Mikhailichenko after the blonde midfielder’s been played through by Zavarov in a quick USSR turn-over. It had been the first moment of threat from either camp since the break.
Substitute forced off early
The Turkish are unfortunate that substitute Hasan, having only been around six minutes in the contest, appears to pull a muscle in his left thigh after stretching awkwardly in an attempt to try and reach a ball played forward by Recep along the right hand side touchline. Hasan will never recover, although he makes a brave effort to continue. It soon becomes clear that he’s in no fit condition to present any threat to the visiting defence, and so it is odd how he will still remain on the pitch for another eight minutes or so. Perhaps were the Turkish bench unaware of the severity of the injury? With just under 14 minutes of the second period gone, Turkey decide to replace Hasan with another striker in Beşiktaş ace Feyyaz, who had been part of that lethal trio which had torn into East Germany half a year earlier. Could he resume the excellent relations he had had with Rıdvan and Tanju from that late November ’88 evening? It was nevertheless very unfortunate that Hasan had not been given a proper chance to show to the audience what he could do. His physique could possibly have been an element which the home side could’ve drawn advantage from had he been able to continue. Now it was time to go back to the drawing board for Tınaz with regards to how he would shape his attack line.
Vasily Rats, the Soviet Union’s fine left-sided player, who on this occasion performed at left-back in the absence of the trusted Anatoly Demyanenko, had received a warning during the first half, and just shy of the 55 minute mark, the player who’s recently departed the nation to play for Español in Spain, is fortunate not to have his name taken a second time by monsieur Vautrot. A Turkey set-piece had been cleared out towards the hosts’ right hand channel, and when Mustafa picked the ball up and wanted to make inroads towards the penalty area, he had been cynically hacked down from behind by the otherwise so collected Rats. Isolatedly, it had been an offence worthy of a yellow card, but the referee takes no action. Mustafa is in need of attention from the medical team before play can resume.
Just as the Turkish have finally seen Feyyaz finish his touchline preparation to come onto the pitch for the injury-stricken Hasan, the Soviet Union embark on another counter-attack. This clearly is their philosophy for the second half, as they know they have the defensive solidity necessary to fend off most threats from the home team, and in players like Dobrovolsky, Zavarov and not least Protasov, they do possess more than enough pace and ability to sting the Turkish defence again. Recep, the Turkey right-back, is a bit sloppy in possession just inside the USSR half, and dallying on the ball, he concedes it to Dobrovolsky, who does well in pressuring the full-back. Dobrovolsky immediately sprints, ball at feet, in the forward direction, attempting to seize on any hesitation in transiting from attack to defence in the Turkish side. He makes it to level with the 18 yard area before he squares the ball inside for Zavarov, who’s joined him. However, as the Juventus man tries to finish the move off with a deft left foot effort from an angle, Yusuf desperately throws himself in to block the ball away for a corner. As he does so, he takes a hit from his own goalkeeper, and he too will need attention. This is the cue for Feyyaz to enter the pitch, after almost ten minutes of Turkey practically being a man short.
With Turkey finally back to full strength, they have to face further danger from the visitors before they can even think about how they will set themselves up to pose a greater level of threat down the other side. The Soviet Union maintain the ball deep inside Turkish territory for an extended spell, and they will arrive at opportunities to shoot twice: Firstly, Aleinikov, the defensive midfielder with a grandiose shot on him, comes into sector to the left of the penalty area D, though his effort’s blocked away, yet only into the path of Litovchenko, who in turn is able to feed Zavarov to his right. The playful forward invites Mikhailichenko for a one-two, and upon receiving the ball back, Zavarov has space to move into the penalty area and have a shot. His wicked effort goes just wide of Engin’s upright, and had the ball been aimed inside the goal frame, there would’ve been preciously little the ‘keeper could’ve done to prevent the Soviets from increasing their lead. Turkey would need to look deep for some proper resolve to get out of this trouble.
Another formational twist
Turkey manager Tınaz was far from someone reluctant to try a different approach if earlier attempts had not worked according to desire. Whereas it was obvious that at the start of the second half they had come out in a 4-3-3, he had seemed to abandon this idea again since replacing Hasan with Feyyaz. Let there be little doubt about the second substitute’s attacking credentials: Feyyaz was an out and out striker. Yet, and possibly because Tınaz had spotted that the Soviet Union were still a major threat to his side, Feyyaz would be thrusted into the eleven in a right-sided midfield capacity. It definitely seemed as if Turkey had gone 4-4-2, and thus altered formation yet again. This time around it was Cüneyt and Ünal in the centre of midfield, with Mustafa towards the left, in an inverted role. Up top, Tanju, on this occasion back to his more stationary approach, almost a bit like what had been seen during their opening qualifier at home to Iceland, had the ever lively Rıdvan running in his vicinity. Rıdvan would be seen soon right, soon left. In fact, he did tend to come more into left-sided channels during the former part of the second half. Unfortunately, though it would have to do with the opponent being such a powerful one, there was no recreation of that attacking three which had been so scintillating against GDR in the home tie back in November.
Close to a second Soviet goal
Approaching the 75 minute mark, the hosts are still unable to stamp necessary authority on proceedings to pose a great threat to the visitors, who remain calm and collected defensively, and who are far from afraid to break forward, and break forward purposefully, when the opportunity presents itself. Another such occasion comes 29 minutes into the second half, when Protasov again uses his legs to stretch the home defence, where Yusuf really has a tall order to try and track down the agile striker’s every move. Protasov, having picked the ball up just inside the penalty area to the right, plays the ball back to the omni-present Litovchenko, who in turn feeds Zavarov. Faced with Ünal, Zavarov twists and turns on the ball, spinning free with much ease, and as Cüneyt never attempts to put any sort of tackle in, the path suddenly opens up in front of the Juventus forward, who tries a low shot from inside the penalty area. Engin has come off his line to reduce the angle, and the goalkeeper is able to get a foot to the ball, diverting it away from danger. It could, and probably should, have been 2-0 and game over. It is a calculated second half performance by the world class visitors. Two minutes later, Dobrovolsky again has a pop from a difficult angle, though it does draw another save out of Engin.
With the game rapidly approaching its conclusion, the packed ground let hear some whistles of discontent, though the majority of the crowd must have appreciated the fact that their heroes were up against an opponent of such a fine calibre. There appeared to be no way through for the hosts, who had yet to trouble Dasayev. They had tried three different formations in order to blow some imagination into their approach, but the incessant running off the ball from the visitors made sure that the Soviet rear guard just needed to stay collected to defend against individual approaches. Tanju was never a match for Kuznetsov, and even Rıdvan, despite his endeavour, had never got himself into a position where he could have a go or muster a decisive final pass (of which he was so often a master). Feyyaz had not been able to replicate earlier qualification form, and the greater threats had indeed come down the other end, Engin again having been brought into action as Protasov had raced away from Semih and Yusuf following yet another counter. The striker had arrived deep inside the penalty area to the right, and eventually not just losing out to the angle, but also to Engin, who would always be the winner in that particular challenge. It had, though, been another moment showing the visitors’ relentless intent to break with pace. Turkey’s defence never had one moment where they could allow themselves to lower their guard.
Late Soviet changes
Three minutes from time comes the first Soviet change in personnel, when Lobanovsky decides to withdraw the dangerous Protasov. The Dinamo Kiev striker had run himself into the ground, and his performance must have pleased the manager to a great extent. On for Protasov came Aleksandr Borodyuk, a player capable of appearing in several positions, though this time around he would prove to be a straight swap for the man he replaced. Borodyuk, naturally, did not possess the pace of Protasov, but so close to full time, Lobanovsky would’ve appreciated whatever contribution Borodyuk could deliever, such as holding the ball up inside Turkey’s half of the pitch. A minute into injury time, the Soviets also let versatile defender Gela Ketashvili come on for his international debut as he replaces Sergey Aleinikov. Ketashvili will also be a direct replacement, slotting into Aleinikov’s role as the holding midfielder.
Referee Vautrot lets the game run almost three and a half minutes into injury time, something which is rare for 1989 football. Yet, the home side seem to have lost all faith by this point, apparently having surrendered any belief in this Soviet defence being breachable. There’s no late moments of panic in the visitors’ lines, and they controlledly see the game out, eventually able to celebrate an important two points on their way to qualification for Italia ’90. It had been a thoroughly deserved win.
The Turkish had begun the match in a cautious manner, acknowledging the fact that they were up against a mighty opponent, and though the hosts, with confidence generated from two qualification wins against East Germany and that friendly triumph in Greece, were playing their part without making any kind of goal threats early on, the visitors would gradually seize the initiative and start creating opportunities. Goalkeeper Engin would be brought into action, and Gökhan would save a certain goal with a desperate tackle, before Mikhailichenko slotted home the opening goal five minutes from half time. The second half saw a more measured approach from the visitors, with the hosts attempting to be more attacking. Oğuz seemed to be a big miss for the hosts, who also had Tanju off form, and they never managed to trouble Dasayev even once. Instead, it was the Soviets who were a threat on the counter, and it would take further saves from the impressive Engin to keep the scoreline down. The visitors saw the game out to earn a set of major points, realizing that they were already well on their way to qualification.
1 Engin 7.4
again a solid display by the ‘keeper, who kept out a few efforts and also did well when threatened via aerial delieveries
2 Recep 6.9
did ok against Dobrovolsky for most of the match in what was again a fine defensive display
3 Semih 6.8
found Litovchenko a difficult customer, especially when he wanted to move forward in possession
4 Cüneyt 6.9
solved both his different roles satisfactory, but could not use his presence to get his team mates going on this occasion
5 Gökhan K 7.1
a mature mop up job behind his defence, though little attacking intent until very late
6 Yusuf 6.7
does relish a battle, but too often stretched by Protasov, whom he had been put to mark
7 Uğur 6.4
not highly effective in his midfield closing down, and again on the ball he is not convincing enough in his decision-making
(16 Hasan –
came on to add more physical presence alongside Tanju, but pulled up early and had no time to make an impact before going off)
(15 Feyyaz 6.8
there was no lack of effort, and he sought to get on the ball in the channel, but there was little attacking cohesion to aid his plight)
8 Rıdvan 6.8
plays with desire, but another forward suffering from a lack of imagination around him, and indeed from being up against a rock solid defence
9 Ünal 7.2
another good performance by the Turkey playmaker, yet he ultimately failed to ignite his front line
10 Tanju 6.3
was kept in Kuznetsov’s back pocket throughout
11 Mustafa 6.6
showed some tenacity, but a couple of times wasteful in possession, and too often accepted no responsibility. Did produce just about Turkey’s only effort on goal
1 Dasayev 6.9
claims a couple of crosses, but other than that has precious little to work with
2 Luzhny 7.0
enthusiastic enough, and in general sound control defensively along the right hand side
3 Gorlukovich 7.2
rarely left his position, but kept the defence collected all match. Good in the air
4 Kuznetsov 7.2
kept Tanju quiet, and at times an outlet for his central midfield and even fellow defenders in his roving central defensive role
5 Aleinikov 6.9
not as authoritative as you’d expect in his holding role, though part of a midfield unit which gelled and predominantly kept dominance
(12 Ketashvili –
on in the ‘Aleinikov role’, touched the ball once)
6 Rats 6.8
challenged by Ünal a couple of times, made a rash challenge on Mutafa at a point where he’d already been booked, and was fortunate to remain on the pitch. Crossing did not favour him on this occasion
7 Mikhailichenko 7.3
runs the show in the final quarter of an hour during the first half, gets the only goal of the game splendidly, but opts out of the game for spells after the break
8 Litovchenko 7.2
such an efficient player both in defence and attack, never gives the opponents a second’s peace from his right hand side position
9 Zavarov 7.5
probably a man of the match performance from the highly skillful playmaker, who came so close to scoring on two occasions. Dominated in the final third of the pitch when he wanted
10 Protasov 7.3
a strong job as the sole striker, and he makes sure that his marker Yusuf gets to stretch his legs. Assisted Mikhailichenko for the goal, and was a constant threat throughout with his numerous runs off the ball. Tired eventually
(15 Borodyuk –
on to provide fresh legs in the dying minutes. Does not possess Protasov’s direct ability)
11 Dobrovolsky 6.9
a battle with Recep for most of the game; sometimes he’d come out on top, sometimes not