France made to wait for Euro 2020 place
France will have to wait to secure their place at the UEFA Euro 2020 finals after being held to a 1-1 draw by Turkey in an absorbing game at the Stade de France on Monday.
Monday, October 14, 2019
UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group H
Stade de France, Saint-Denis
France 1 - 1 Turkey
The World Cup holders knew a win in Saint-Denis would see them clinch a place at next year's finals with two matches to spare in qualifying Group H, and it seemed as though France would get the result they wanted when Olivier Giroud headed them in front in the 76th minute. However, Kaan Ayhan equalised for Turkey with eight minutes left to the delight of their huge following, which seemed to amount to around a third of the crowd inside the Stade de France on a wet night.
The result leaves the two sides level on 19 points after eight qualifiers, but Turkey have the upper hand via their better head-to-head record having beaten Les Bleus 2-0 in the reverse fixture in June. Iceland are four points behind in third after beating Andorra 2-0, but Didier Deschamps' team know one win from their two remaining fixtures, at home to Moldova and away in Albania in November, will be enough.
They were the better team in the first half here but failed to make the most of their domination, notably when Antoine Griezmann burst through to force a save from Mert Günok, who then produced a spectacular block from Moussa Sissoko's follow-up (17').
Griezmann also curled one shot from range wide in the 36th minute as Turkey succeeded in frustrating their hosts, with Wissam Ben Yedder struggling to make his presence felt against the visitors' centre-backs.
Turkey coach Şenol Güneş replaced holding midfielder Okay Yokuşlu at half-time and sent on Hakan Çalhanoğlu to play as a second striker. His team were more enterprising in the second half as a result, and they should have gone ahead just before the hour mark when Çalhanoğlu's brilliant touch set up captain Burak Yılmaz for a glorious chance which he fired over.
Deschamps responded by sending on Giroud for Ben Yedder in the 72nd minute and the Chelsea striker needed just four minutes to make his presence felt, heading in Griezmann's right-wing corner at the near post.
However, Turkey were level shortly after that. Griezmann conceded a free-kick midway inside his own half, and Çalhanoğlu's delivery was headed home by fellow substitute Ayhan - on for the injured LOSC right-back Zeki Çelik - who ghosted in at the back post to beat Steve Mandanda, ensuring a share of the points.
THE PLAYER: Olivier Giroud
The Chelsea striker's reward for scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in Friday's 1-0 win in Iceland was to be dropped here, making way for Ben Yedder. However, he showed just how reliable he is by coming off the bench to open the scoring in the second half. Giroud's goal was his 38th for his country on the occasion of his 95th cap. Thierry Henry (51) and Michel Platini (41) are the only men with more.
THE STAT: 10
This was the first time in 10 home qualifiers played at the Stade de France that France had failed to win. The last time a visiting team took anything against Les Bleus in a qualifier at the national stadium was in March 2013, when Spain won 1-0 here in a World Cup qualifier.