Turkey and Portugal begin with draw
Monday, July 2, 2012
Turkey 0-0 Portugal
Given a stern examination throughout, the hosts secured a draw in a tightly-contested Group A opener between two finals debutants.
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Turkey may have been making their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals debut but they refused to be overwhelmed in a fiercely-competitive goalless draw with Portugal at the impressive Mardan Sport Complex.
In a contest predominated by defensive discipline, it was Portugal – also playing in their nation's first women's final tournament fixture – who went closest to finding a winner when Tatiana Pinto struck the woodwork shortly after the break. Turkey were good value for a point, however, and could emerge from Group A if they continue to play with the same endeavour and spirit.
Portugal used the ball shrewdly during the opening stages, passing quickly and moving intelligently without threatening their opponents' goal. It was enough to concern Turkey coach Taygun Erdem, who abandoned a tranquil countenance in an attempt to rally his troops. Portugal remained the dominant force, however, and conjured their first effort on goal through Tatiana Pinto.
Backed by a passionate home crowd, Turkey attempted to stem the flow and found inspiration in Filiz İşikırık. Despite energy-sapping conditions in Antalya, İşikırık was vibrant and her fierce strike ricocheted into the path of Elif Deniz, whose predatory instincts were thwarted by Bárbara Santos. The Limhamn Bunkeflo 2007 forward continued to persevere but her inviting centre narrowly evaded a host of team-mates just before the break.
Turkey resumed control after the restart and went tantalisingly close to breaking the deadlock when Deniz prodded wide after Sevgi Çınar's stinging effort proved too hot to handle. José Paisana's side responded with character and were almost rewarded when Pinto's over-hit free-kick crashed against the crossbar.
The pattern of play seldom changed thereafter as Portugal upheld their passing principles, while Turkey favoured the more direct approach. The ubiquitous İşikırık remained a willing outlet and just as it seemed her panache would be crowned with a goal, she skewed wide as the spoils were rightfully shared.