Switzerland Are Through To World Cup Finals After Thriller in Istanbul
ISTANBUL (From FIFAWorldCup.com) - Switzerland survived a Turkish fightback to claim their place at Germany 2006 advancing as winners on away goals after their 4-2 loss in Istanbul left the sides level at 4-4 on aggregate.
After their 2-0 first-leg win last Saturday the Swiss looked home and dry when Alexander Frei tucked away a second-minute penalty but Turkey who finished third at Korea/Japan 2002 showed commendable spirit to climb into a 3-1 lead.
However a second Swiss goal by Marco Streller rendered meaningless Tuncay Sanli's hat-trick and secured the visitors their first FIFA World Cup™ finals appearance since 1994 and eighth overall.
The evening could not have started more badly for Turkey. Fatih Terim's side went into the match needing to score at least three goals to progress something they had managed just once in their six previous home qualifiers. If that was a tall order however the task facing them after events of the opening two minutes seemed like mission impossible.
Inside the first 60 seconds veteran defender Alpay Ozalan handled the ball in the area after being wrong-footed by Frei and the Swiss No9 gratefully accepted the chance to extend the visitors' advantage firing his spot-kick low to Volkan Demirel's right. It was Frei's seventh goal in qualifying and spelt a dream start for the Swiss.
Turkey looked stunned yet gradually they began to get their game together. Hakan Sukur went close when he beat Pascal Zuberbuhler to Necati Ates' low cross from the right but the veteran's shot was wide. The Swiss then escaped Turkish appeals for a penalty when a Hakan cross struck the sliding Patrick Muller's shoulder.
The crowd inside the packed Sukru Saracoglu stadium breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 21st minute when Daniel Gygax poked a shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat but within a minute they were celebrating as Tuncay equalised to give themselves a glimmer of hope. Emre Belozoglu one of six changes to their first-leg lineup sent over a free-kick to the far post and Tuncay got in front of Tranquillo Barnetta to power a header past Zuberbuhler.
Turkish tails were up and Necati threatened a second when he powered forward in the inside-left channel and flashed a shot over the angle of post and crossbar. To maintain their momentum a second goal was needed before the break and it came from Tuncay in the 36th minute. Ergun Penbe crossed to the far post Hakan headed down and past Zuberbuhler and there was Tuncay sliding in to make sure.
Lightning almost struck twice at the start of the second half when Frei caught the home defence napping but he shot past Demirel's far post. He was left ruing that miss in the 52nd minute when Turkey found a third goal. Serhat Akin tumbled over under Streller's challenge in the penalty area referee Frank De Bleeckere pointed to the spot and Necati did the rest.
Turkey needed just one more goal and Hakan threatened to provide it on the hour when he bore down on Zuberbuhler's goal but with the ball bouncing awkwardly he failed to get a shot in. That miss paled by comparison with the opportunity Frei spurned moments later blazing wide after Barnetta had teed him up in front of goal.
As Turkey pushed forward in search of a fourth goal they left spaces at the back and eventually the Swiss punished them. With six minutes remaining Streller latched on to a long ball forward rounded the goalkeeper and scored the goal that confirmed Switzerland's place in Germany.
Although Tuncay claimed his hat-trick in the dying minutes with a close-range header for Turkey the damage was already done.