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England hold firm to qualify

Published: Sunday 12 October 2003, 0.45CET
Turkey 0-0 England England win Group 7 and send their hosts into the play-offs.
Published: Sunday 12 October 2003, 0.45CET

England hold firm to qualify

Turkey 0-0 England England win Group 7 and send their hosts into the play-offs.

A goalless draw in Istanbul took England into the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals and forced Turkey into the play-offs on a night physically and mentally draining for both teams.

Penalty miss
Turkey rained the ball into the England box for much of the game, but the visitors repelled their attacks on each occasion, and were even able to afford an extraordinary David Beckham penalty miss to prevail and stretch their record of not conceding a goal to Turkey in ten games.

Eriksson praise
England coach Sven-Göran Eriksson praised his players as he said: "They played like a team with a lot of experience and tried to keep the ball when it was time to keep it. We played balls into channels behind full-backs to take pressure off the defence. It was a marvellous performance."

Sergen returns
Hakan Sükür recovered from a knee injury to start up front for Turkey alongside Nihat Kahveci, with Sergen Yalçin - making his first international appearance since 2001 - in support. John Terry replaced Rio Ferdinand in the England defence, while Michael Owen's shin injury meant Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey were the strike pairing for the visitors, who had no fans in the stadium for security reasons.

James saves
England started the game much the brighter, but none of their crosses produced a clear-cut chance. The home side gained in confidence and Nihat had two good opportunities blocked as he worried the England defence. The 21st minute then produced an opportunity for both teams, but Rooney's chip went over and Emre Belözoglu's powerful shot was saved by David James.

Beckham denied
The England goalkeeper then had to deny Nihat, as Turkey continued to push, but eight minutes from the end of the half the visitors gained a penalty as Steven Gerrard dribbled into the box and was tripped by Tugay Kerimoglu. However, Beckham - who scored a penalty against Turkey in England's home 2-0 win - slipped on the turf as he completed his run-up and the ball ballooned over.

Nihat goes close
There was little change in the pattern of play after the break. Okan Buruk shot wide after a fine Nihat cross, and the home side piled on the pressure. Beckham and Rooney almost fashioned a shot just before the hour but Fatih Akyel tackled. But the real pressure was at the other end, Nihat denied by a James save and Campbell and Terry forced to intercept several dangerous centres.

Goal disallowed
As the minutes ticked by, England were forced further and further back. However, territory and possession were not being converted into shots, and when Darius Vassell and Kieron Dyer came on for England, the visitors had some opportunities of their own. Vassell shot wide and Dyer was only just offside as he crossed for Beckham to head into the net.

England hold on
It was a desperate last few minutes, and substitute Tuncay Sanli went closest with a shot from just outside the area which only just went wide. Time, and luck, were not on the home team's side tonight, however, and while England are in their fifth consecutive UEFA European Championship finals, Turkey must wait for Monday's play-off draw.

Gunes thoughts
"Although we had enough ambition and skill to win the game, that feeling sometimes prevented us displaying what we had in our minds," said Turkey coach Senol Günes. "We did not play badly. I congratulate England, they successfully qualified. We definitely will not think about this match from now on. Instead, we will look forward to our play-off matches."

Last updated: 12/10/03 18.26CET