Turkey produced three impressive performances to win the latest in the series of friendly mini-tournaments for teams eliminated in the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ preliminary round.
Hosts Estonia welcomed Croatia, Malta and Turkey for the last of the four spring 2008 events, with Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan having topped the other groups. This pool contained two sides that had emerged victorious in the opening series of events last autumn, Croatia and Turkey, and sure enough it was that pair that occupied the top two positions when this mini-tournament ended.
Both secured wins on the opening day. Croatia beat Malta 3-0 with goals late in the first half from Ivana Leskovac and Antonija Ćorak before Sandra Žigić's late effort. But Turkey ended the day on top after a 6-0 defeat of Estonia. Burcu Düner struck on 30 and 39 minutes, Nadire İnan added another before the break and Esra Erol, Aylin Yaren and Ebru Gelirli scored late on.
The leading pair played on Matchday 2 with Turkey hoping to reverse the 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the preliminary round that allowed Northern Ireland to finish above both teams in a three-way head-to-head tie. Yaren put Turkey into a 21st-minute lead but goals from Iva Landeka and Žigić gave Croatia the advantage. However Yaren equalised four minutes into the second half and Bilgin Defterli scored on 56 and 73 minutes to give Turkey a 4-2 win. First place was not decided, though, as Ylenia Carabott's 79th-minute goal gave Malta a 1-0 victory against Estonia.
Turkey still looked in good shape to win the group and a 3-0 defeat of Malta ensured just that. Erol's superb solo effort broke the deadlock early in the second half and her excellent lob on 61 minutes settled matters not long after Düner had struck from close range. Croatia finished runners-up after winning 3-1 against Estonia; Katarina Kolar claiming a first-half hat-trick before Margarita Žernosekova's 48th-minute consolation. There are two more sets of mini-tournaments to come this autumn and next spring before these nations return to competitive action in 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying.
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