Turkey left it late before earning a dramatic win against Kazakhstan in Istanbul and taking a potentially crucial step towards the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs.
Arda Turan's deflected free-kick in the sixth minute of added time secured three points for Guus Hiddink's men, who had just lost playmaker Selçuk İnan to a red card. With their victory, Turkey moved a point clear of Group A rivals Belgium, frustrated by a late equaliser in Azerbaijan, and their position in second place looks all the stronger for their game in hand.
If a red card and winning goal in added time were not sufficient drama, Turkey also missed a penalty and had a goal disallowed during a match where they took a first-half lead through Burak Yılmaz before being pegged back by Ulan Konysbaev's 55th-minute equaliser.
The evening almost brought an early goal when Emre Belözğlu was foiled by a goalline clearance and Turkey went close again with a Burak Yılmaz header that flew a whisker wide in the 25th minute. Within six minutes, however, the breakthrough came. Selçuk was the creator, picking out Burak's run into the box with a fine pass which his colleague volleyed home.
It could have been 2-0 after 54 minutes but Kazim Kazim was foiled by Mokin when clean through, and Selçuk missed on the follow-up. Instead, within 60 seconds, Miroslav Beranek's visitors drew level as Ulan Konysbaev, ignoring the two defenders in front of him, beat Volkan Demirel with a lob that went in off the post.
A Mukhtar Mukhtarov handball gave Turkey the chance of a swift reply but Burak, while sending Mokin the wrong way, saw the ball come off the post. Burak then had a goal disallowed, his header ruled out for a foul on Mukhtar Mukhtarov. There were further twists to come, however, as two minutes into added time Selçuk earned a red card for a dangerous challenge on Genrikh Shmidtgal. Turkey were a man down but they had the last laugh, Arda's free-kick deflecting off the Kazakhstan wall and wrongfooting Mokin. They will aim to keep up the momentum in Austria on Tuesday.
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