Portugal picked up an important three points in the Group D battle for qualification with a hard fought win over Turkey.
Coach Antonio Oliveira drafted Antonio Folha into the Portugal starting 11 after he provided the assist as a substitute in their 1-1 draw with Denmark. Turkey made three changes, with Recep Cetin, Oguz Cetin and Saffet Sancakli being drafted in to replace Rahim Zafer, Tolunay Kafkas and Arif Erdem respectively.
After creating few chances in their opening defeat to Croatia, Turkey adopted a much more aggressive attacking stance for this game. Long balls forward put Portugal under pressure, finding the target man with runners in support consistently throughout the game.
Defensively, Turkey settled into a 3-5-2 shape, putting plenty of bodies behind the ball and forcing Portugal to show some quality in order to break them down, something which proved a tough task for long spells of the game.
The first sight of goal for Turkey came in the 9th minute when pressing high up the field caused a turnover, and Saffet was played in before firing his shot wide across goal.
Portugal showed excellent tactical fluidity again, defending in a 4-5-1 shape with Ricardo Sa Pinto in a wide right position, and Joao Pinto as the lone forward.
Turkey continued to press forward and in the 16th minute, Sergen cut inside but fired his shot straight at Vitor Baia. Seven minutes later Turkey had a penalty claim when a long diagonal ball from Alpay found Saffet, and the striker cut inside Paulinho Santos before going down under contact from Helder Cristovao. Hungarian referee Sandor Puhl did not give the foul despite protestations from the Turks.
When attacking, Portugal showed fluid interchange and always pushed bodies forward in support of Pinto. Typically, either Sa Pinto coming in from wide right, or Luis Figo pushing up from central midfield would serve as a second forward to link with Pinto in attack. As in the first game, Pinto and Sa Pinto adopting wide positions, and a runner coming through the middle provided problems to the opposing back line.
In the 33rd minute, Portugal carved out the biggest chance of the game so far courtesy of a piece of individual brilliance from Rui Costa. The midfielder collected the ball inside his own half before gliding past one challenge and playing a one-two with Sa Pinto. Costa then dribbled to the byline before splitting two defenders and squaring the ball across goal, only for Sa Pinto to drag his finish wide of the far post. The ability of Costa to penetrate off the dribble was a key part of the success Portugal did have in attack throughout the game.
A minute later there was a chance at the other end as Turkey’s direct approach continued to be a threat. A long diagonal ball from Abdullah Ercan found Saffet, and the striker’s cushioned header to Hakan Sukur resulted in a shot that was deflected wide for a corner.
The game continued to game speed and the deadlock was almost broken when Rustu Recber failed to reach a Portuguese corner, Fernando Couto headed back into the danger area and the ball was cleared. Folha collected the clearance and swung over a dangerous cross that was headed down by Couto before being deflected wide of the post by a sliding Helder.
As the half ended, Portugal right back Paulinho Santos collected a yellow card for a foul on Abdullah that would see him suspended for the final group game against Croatia.
Each team made one change at the interval, with Folha being replaced by Jose Tavares in the Portuguese midfield. Zafer replaced Ogun Temizkanoglu in the heart of the Turkish defense.
Portugal came out of the gate fast and carved out a chance within 60 seconds of the restart, when a Costa cross found Figo at the back post, but Rustu tipped the header around the post for a corner.
Turkey center back Zafer was called into action repeatedly in the second half, first when neat Portuguese interplay saw Pinto release Sa Pinto in behind, only for a sliding stop by Zafer to end the threat.
In the 62nd minute Figo was squared up by Alpay out wide, and dropped a pass back to Dimas to cross over, Pinto met the cross with a back post header that was saved by Rustu.
Defender Alpay was an impressive presence for Turkey throughout the game, both defending strongly and showing good ability to contribute in possession. Alpay found passes well, and also carried the ball forward to give Turkey an extra man in the midfield third during buildup.
Turkish coach Fatih Terim subbed on midfielder Tolunay in the 63rd minute for Saffet as the Turks looked to gain a foothold in the midfield department, Sergen Yalcin moved up to play forward after the change.
Coach Oliveira responded two minutes later by subbing on striker Jorge Cadete for Sa Pinto as Portugal searched for a goal, and their first win of the tournament.
Cadete made an immediate impact, playing in Costa behind and forcing Abdullah to concede a corner with a quality sliding tackle, but Portugal would score the decisive goal from that corner.
Costa and Figo worked a short corner, before Costa fed Paulo Sousa 20 yards out. Sousa released a shot that was blocked but fell to center back Couto on the edge of the area, who beat Rustu with a well struck volley before celebrating with a somersault in front of the Portugal bench.
With their tails up, Portugal almost doubled their lead from another short corner in the 71st minute, but Figo’s cross was headed over the bar by Pinto.
Turkey pushed forward in search of an equalizer, and Abdullah beat Santos off the dribble on the edge of the penalty area before the impressive Couto strode over to cover and block the shot. Another chance came two minutes later when Arif played in Hakan with a clever outside of the foot pass, only for the striker to hit shis finish directly at Baia.
A final chance came for Turkey in the 89th minute when Sergen was fouled 20 yards out by Sousa. Sergen stepped up to take the free kick, but lifted it high over the bar and the clock ticked down on an important win for Portugal.
Portugal picked up a vital three points heading into a difficult final group game against an impressive Croatia team. Right back Santos would be suspended for the game here, leaving coach Oliveira with a difficult decision about who would go head to head with Croatian wingback Robert Jarni.
The Portuguese were firing on all cylinders in the midfield area, but triker Pinto would be looking for a goal after missing a series of chances so far in the tournament.
This result eliminated Turkey from the tournament, but they would be looking to go out on a positive note with a win over fellow strugglers Denmark. Midfielder Tolunay would be suspended for the final game, while center back Zafer made a strong case for a return to the starting lineup with an impressive second half display here.
66’ POR Fernando Couto (Paulo Sousa) 1-0
MAN OF THE MATCH
CD Farnando Couto (Portugal) – An impressive display from the powerful center back, making key contributions at both ends of the field. His quality winning goal paired with a series of clearances, headers and blocks that held Turkey scoreless.
3: CD Fernando Couto – Man of the Match.
2: CM Rui Costa – Another quality display oozing class from the midfielder, Costa kept possession all game, and showed an impressive ability to dribble in tight spaces that consistently unbalanced Turkey.
1: CM Luis Figo – Quality on the ball accompanied with energetic runs forward to consistently support the strikers in attack.
3: LM Abdullah Ercan – Strong in defense, and managed to threaten with a series of crosses to put pressure on the Portuguese center back. Hos late shot blocked by Couto could have rescued a point.
2: CF Saffet Sancakli – Powerful aerial presence that was a key piece of Turkey’s game plan for this fixture. Won many headers and served as an excellent target man for Hakan to run off.
1: CD Alpay Ozalan – Defended well against a quality opponent and showed good ability in possession.