13 October 2014 23:11
Turkey failed to ease the mounting pressure on coach Fatih Terim after being held to a fiery 1-1 draw by Latvia in Euro 2016 qualifying.
Turkey – who lost their opening Group A qualifiers to Iceland and the Czech Republic – were utterly dominant in the first half of this clash in Riga but failed to convert their advantage.
And although substitute Bilal Kisa gave them the lead with an outstanding 30-yard strike in the 47th minute, Valerijs Sabala levelled proceedings from the penalty spot.
Sabala’s 54th-minute spot-kick proved enough to earn the hosts a point despite a late red card being shown to substitute Gints Freimanis in stoppage time.
Turkey, who have not qualified for a major tournament since Euro 2008, remain bottom of the pool, while Latvia moved up to fourth.
Terim – in his third term as coach of Turkey – entered the match needing a result and must have wished Umut Bulut had brought his shooting boots after watching a frustrating first 45 minutes.
Bulut was guilty of wasting a host of chances in the first half, with the outside of the post first denying him in the ninth minute.
The Galatasaray forward brought down a long ball superbly but after an excellent first touch, he could only prod the ball onto the woodwork when clean through.
Olcay Sahan was next to go close, forcing Aleksandrs Kolinko into a smart stop in the 18th minute, and less than 120 seconds later the Latvia goalkeeper rushed off his line to keep out Bulut.
Bulut then saw a near-post flick saved by Kolinko, while Arda Turan fizzed a 25-yard effort just wide four minutes before the break.
Turkey deserved to be in front and Kisa delighted the travelling fans with a wicked 30-yard strike on his left-foot that dipped and swerved over Kolinko just after play resumed.
Tempers frayed at regular intervals and Turan was booked in the 51st minute after a coming together with Latvia players.
The hosts then drew level after Ozan Tufan clumsily felled Aleksejs Visnakovs in the penalty area, and Sabala slotted the spot-kick to the keeper’s left.
Adem Buyuk went close to restoring Turkey’s lead, while Turan headed just wide, and Latvia had a late chance of their own – Kaspars Dubra denied by debutant Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Babacan.
Freimanis was then given a second yellow card for kicking the ball away as both sides had to settle for a point.