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Men's Football Muldur and Guler's wonder goals help Turkey see off Georgia

Turkey 3-1 Georgia
by Layth Yousif

 

MERT MULDUR and Real Madrid wonder kid Arda Guler provided a brace of contenders for goal of the tournament, to help Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey start with a win at a rain-lashed but hugely atmospheric Westfahlen on Tuesday.

Despite Georges Mikautadze equalising with Georgia’s first goal at a major tournament, Turkey broke their opponents hearts on their European Championship debut in an enthralling Group F clash in northern Germany.

For one day only, Dortmund’s Yellow Wall in the former mining region of North Rhine-Westphalia morphed into a red one instead, as tens of thousands of Turkish fans packed the famous end.

The noise levels throughout the match were powered by Turkey’s booming support, which surely also featured descendants of Gastarbeiter (guest workers), including Turkish mineworkers who immigrated to West Germany and the old colliery city of Dortmund in the 1960s and ’70s.

It is estimated that more than seven per cent of Dortmund's population is of Turkish heritage — with this exciting match played out at relentlessly deafening levels of decibels, ensuring the contest became the closest Turkey will ever know to a home match outside their borders, until they stage a tournament.

On manager Vincenzo Montella's 50th birthday, the side — powered by German-born players including captain Hakan Calhanoglu and starters Kaan Ayhan and Kenan Yildiz — picked up three valuable points in sodden conditions.

In a frenzied opening, Turkey hit the woodwork through a low effort from Gelsenkirchen-born Ayhan that struck Georgia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvilli’s right-hand post, before racing along the goalline and away, as the Turkey fans behind the goal made an almighty racket.

Georgia then swept upfield to see Anzor Mekvabiahvilli forcing Turkey keeper Mert Gunok into a smart save.

Yet Turkey’s early dominance eventually saw Austria Vienna’s 25-year-old right-back Muldur give Turkey the lead in the 25th minute, with an outstanding volley into the top corner that left Georgia goalkeeper Mamardashvili with no chance.

No sooner had a blazing bright pyro been lit in the Red Wall in celebration of going 1-0 up, Regensburg-born Yildiz thought he had doubled the lead, but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside.

Willy Sagnol’s valiant Georgia — playing in a Euros for the first time — battled bravely, refusing to be cowed by the onslaught, deservedly grabbing a leveller seven minutes later.

Sagnol — who was part of the French squad that won the World Cup in 2006, and who, fascinatingly, selected peripatetic wanderer and former York City boss Dave Webb to be his assistant — saw his side equalise in front of their adoring fans.

Ligue 2 Metz forward Mikautadze scoring Georgia’s first goal in a major tournament after expertly guiding Giorgi Kochorashvili’s cross into the near corner.

Cue pandemonium amid the white-shirted Georgia contingent, many clad in red and white crosses in honour of St George, the patron saint of their proud country. Yes, the same saint as England. Stick that in your pipe and explain away Nigel Farage.

The equaliser also unleashed a fevered cacophony of boos from furious Turkish fans.

Sagnol’s Georgia started the second half brightly, with Napoli’s talented winger and Serie A winner Khivicha Kvartskhelia a live wire down the left flank, complete with socks evocatively rolled round his ankles.

However, in the 65th minute, Real Madrid forward Guler made it 2-1 with a superb long-range effort into the top corner.

The 19-year-old Guler, became only the third teenager to score on his first appearance at the European Championships — following Ferenc Bene for Hungary against Spain in 1964 and Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal against Greece in 2004 — with his excellent 20-yard strike that sent the Red Wall and much of the stadium into ear-splitting raptures.

Amid frenzied celebrations Guler —  dubbed the Turkish “Messi” — also became the youngest player to score on his European Championship debut.

Guler joined Los Blancos from Fenerbahce last July, and, after initially struggling to adapt to his new surroundings at the Bernabeu, ended the season on a high, with five goals in five league matches to win La Liga — while also becoming the first Turkish player to lift the Champions League, albeit as an unused substitute during Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Dortmund at Wembley last month.

As the clock ticked down many of Sagnol’s indomitable side lay prone on the drenched turf in despair when Kochorashvili missed a glorious late opportunity, having earlier hit the bar.

In a hectic climax to a memorable match, Georgia also struck the post and had a goal-bound effort from Budu Zivzivadze blocked by Samet Akaydin in the 95th minute.

But just as Argentinian referee Facundo Tello — whose firm but fair officiating was understatedly excellent throughout — was preparing to blow the final whistle, Turkey confirmed their triumph.

Substitute Kerem Akturkoglu, with virtually the last kick of the game, broke clear to slot into an empty net after Georgia keeper Mamardashvili had come up for a corner, to make it 3-1 and seal a memorable victory on a day to remember.

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