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Turkey 3-1 Georgia: Akturkoglu settles classic encounter as tournament debutants denied

Turkey top Group F after a hard-fought win over Georgia

Arda Guler

Arda Guler was among the goals as Turkey seized the initiative in Group F with a pulsating win over European Championship debutants Georgia in Dortmund.

The Real Madrid youngster showed his enormous potential with a stunning strike midway through the second half to quell the brave challenge of a Georgia side who arguably deserved more for an enterprising performance.

And Kerem Akturkoglu netted a decisive third deep into injury time, running from inside his own half to tap into an empty net with Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili up for a corner.

Seconds earlier, Georgia struck a post through Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s free-kick with a heroic block from Samet Akaydin denying Zuriko Davitashvili’s follow-up.

It was a remarkable end to a magnificent game played in a bear-pit atmosphere.

Turkey opened the scoring with another spectacular goal, Mert Mulder volleying in from the edge of the box after 25 minutes before Georgia equalised seven minutes later through Georges Mikautadze.

Georgia had several other chances – Giorgi Kochorashvili coming within inches of an injury-time leveller before the even later drama unfolded.

The first half was played at a breathtaking pace with both sides perhaps sensing an opportunity to take a giant stride towards qualification with a win.

It was Turkey who settled first amid the noise and the rain with Kaan Ayhan and Abdulkerim Bardakci both seeing headers from corners narrowly miss the target.

Vincenzo Montella’s men came even closer after nine minutes with Ayhan driving in a shot which hit the inside of Mamardashvili’s right-hand post and bounced to safety.

Mulder blasts Turkey in front

Mert Gunok saved well to keep out a deflected Anzor Mekvabishvili effort at the other end before Turkey went in front in thrilling fashion.

Ferdi Kadioglu’s cross was nodded clear to the edge of the area where Mulder was waiting to crash a spectacular volley into the top right-hand corner.

The roof almost came off Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park and the volume increased a minute later when Guler escaped down the right and his cross was nudged on by Orkun Kokcu for Kenan Yildiz to fire home at the far post.

The celebrations were cut short this time, however, with Yildiz ruled to be fractionally offside.

Georgia were gasping for air and requiring a spell of possession to take the sting out of the game.

Georgian joy in Dortmund

Their star man Kvaratskhelia had been quiet up to that point but he was involved in a slow and patient build-up that led to the equaliser. Eventually the ball was worked to Kochorashvili, who skipped past his marker with a lovely step-over before crossing to Mikautadze and he sidefooted past Gunok at his near post.

Georgian joy was unbridled and they should have added a second before half-time, Mikautadze volleying inches wide following good work from the impressive Otar Kakabadze.

The second half started in a similar vein with Mikautadze denied by a last-ditch tackle by Bardakci.

Gradually, however, Turkey began to reassert their authority with captain Hakan Calhanoglu starting to pull the strings in midfield.

The Inter midfielder forced an unconventional save from Mamardashvili after 56 minutes – the goalkeeper repelling his powerful free-kick with a one-handed punch.

Guler’s gobsmacker

Calhanoglu has been the darling of Turkish football for many years but Guler is his heir apparent. And it was the 19-year-old who restored his side’s lead after 65 minutes with a stunning goal. Turkey won the ball back in midfield and Guler took it on before lashing a wonderful left-footed shot into the top left-hand corner.

Turkey could have put the game to bed a minute later but Fadioglu opted to pull the ball back for Akaydin rather than shoot and the chance was lost.

They almost paid the price seconds later when Kochorashvili skipped through the Turkey defence before clipping a shot on to the bar.

Substitute Yusuf Yazici almost scored but his header was palmed clear by Mamardashvili before Kochorashvili flashed a close-range shot narrowly wide. Kvaratskhelia and Davitashvili came even closer before Akturkoglu had the final say.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.