Turkey have become the first side to qualify for this summer's UEFA European Under-19 Championship after Feyyaz Uçar's team clinched first place in elite round Group 7 in Russia today.
Needing just a point from their third and final game of the elite round pool played in Krasnodar, Turkey made certain of their ticket to July's final tournament with a 2-0 victory over Ukraine. Striker İbrahim Yilmaz scored late in each half as his side became the first of seven group winners to join hosts Lithuania in the finals draw on 14 June.
The Turkish No9 had also found the net in Friday's 5-1 defeat of Italy which put his team in such a strong position entering the last day of Group 7 action. Okay Yokuşlu, Hakan Calhanoglu with two penalties and Salih Uçan also netted against the young Italians, for whom Antonio Rozzi had briefly restored parity. Yet perhaps the most crucial of Turkey's goals were the pair registered by Ahmet Çalık late in their opening match against host nation Russia last Wednesday, which overturned Vladislav Ovsyannikov's spot kick and earned a 2-1 win.
Italy had also begun the section well, with Rozzi's solitary strike deciding their curtain-raiser against Ukraine. Yet any Italian momentum was emphatically halted by Turkey three days ago, leaving the Ukrainians as the only side capable of catching the leaders – thanks to Yurii Moroz's team beating Russia 2-1 on Friday. Olexiy Khoblenko and Vladlen Yurchenko's first-half goals outweighed Ruslan Bolov's second-half reply from the home country.
Ukraine now had to beat Turkey and hope for an Italian draw or defeat versus the Russians; yet all calculations were rendered futile by İbrahim Yilmaz's double today. As it was, Italy did fail to win as they shared six goals with a Russia side who claimed their first point. Luca Garritano and Marco Benassi put the visitors in front twice, with Andrei Panyukov equalising on each occasion, before Dmitri Efremov's subseqent strike was cancelled out by Michele Moroni. Italy finished second but the hosts could not avoid the wooden spoon.
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