Burak Yilmaz rolled back the years to score a brilliant hat-trick as Turkey withstood a fightback and consigned the Netherlands to a 4-2 defeat in their 2022 World Cup qualifying opener.
Veteran striker Yilmaz had not scored an international goal in two years prior to a first-half brace that had Turkey in control by half-time of the Group G contest at the Ataturk Stadium.
Hakan Calhanoglu’s fine effort 31 seconds into the second half left the Dutch reeling but quickfire goals from substitutes Davy Klaassen and Luuk de Jong offered hope of an unlikely point with 15 minutes to go.
But 35-year-old Yilmaz wrapped up the points and made sure he was leaving with the matchball with an outstanding free-kick nine minutes from time, the visitors’ miserable outing compounded by Memphis Depay’s late penalty miss.
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Yilmaz needed a helping hand to end a run of 10 internationals without a goal, with the captain’s innocuous toe-poke deflecting off Matthijs de Light and wrong-footing Tim Krul.
Donyell Malen had two great chances either side of the opener and was then judged to have pulled Okay Yokuslu to ground in the area, with Yilmaz emphatically doubling his tally from the spot after 34 minutes.
De Ligt headed against the post and was convinced the ball had crossed the line before Okay’s headed clearance but the visitors trailed by two at the break.
Things worsened less than a minute into the first half when Milan star Calhanoglu’s 25-yard effort dipped and deceived Krul before nestling in the bottom-right corner.
Steven Berghuis curled a free-kick narrowly wide and saw penalty claims for handball against Okay from another set-piece waved away as the visitors tried to rally.
Klaassen pulled one back after a turn in the area befitting of the legendary Johan Cruyff – fittingly on the fifth anniversary of the Barcelona’s great’s death – and De Jong saw one trickle in after Ugurcan Cakir tried to deal with a ball into the area to set up a grandstand finale.
But Yilmaz quickly snuffed out Dutch hopes with a thunderous free-kick from the left of the area into the top-far corner and Depay was denied by Cakir from 12 yards after Ozan Kabak felled De Ligt in the area to round out an outing to forget for the visitors.
What does it mean? Turkish delight against disappointing Dutch
This one was always going to be a tough test for Frank de Boer’s men and so it proved. Even accounting for the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Stefan de Vrij, a centre-back pairing of De Ligt and Daley Blind had propelled Ajax to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals and this was a poor defensive effort.
With only the top side progressing automatically from Group G this could already be a potentially damaging setback.
Yilmaz rolls back the years
Skipper Yilmaz is Turkey’s second-highest ever goalscorer but the 35-year-old was experiencing an international drought prior to this contest. However, he scored with all three of his efforts on target here to provide a crucial contribution – the last of which stemmed the Dutch momentum in its tracks.
Frustration for Malen
It may have been a different outcome for the Netherlands had PSV forward Malen not been so wasteful with two tame efforts that failed to trouble Cakir in the first half. He was a lively presence for the Dutch and completed 32 of 42 passes prior to being subbed off after 69 minutes, but his foul on Okay led to Yilmaz doubling the lead and always left the Netherlands facing an uphill battle.
Turkey head to Malaga on Tuesday where their qualifier against Norway is being held. The Netherlands aim to get back on track against Latvia in Amsterdam.