Latvia’s Šabala stuns Turkey with Late Strike

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Latvia’s Šabala stuns Turkey with Late Strike

Turkey 1-1 Latvia
Valērijs Šabala’s 91st-minute goal salvaged the visitors a draw and dealt another blow to Turkey’s already slim automatic qualification hopes.

Turkey’s faint hopes of securing a top-two finish in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A are all but over after Valērijs Šabala equalised for Latvia in added time.

Selçuk İnan gave Turkey the lead with 13 minutes remaining when he received a pass from Arda Turan on the edge of the penalty area and rifled a shot past Andris Vaņins. However, substitute Šabala’s fourth goal in three appearances against Turkey – the forward chested down a loose ball outside the box and found the net with a low drive – earned lowly Latvia a share of the spoils just when it seemed Turkey would leapfrog the Netherlands into third place.

Overcoming a physical approach from Latvia that included four fouls and a yellow card in the first ten minutes, Turkey threatened an early opener. Volkan Şen was played into the area and moved around two defenders, only for Vaņins to thwart him from point-blank range.

They went closer still when Volkan sprinted past two defenders and elicited a save out of Vaņins, who spilled the ball into the path of Burak Yilmaz. The Galatasaray forward, faced with an open goal, headed wide.

Selçuk’s 77th-minute strike was preceded by the backtracking Hakan Balta clearing Artūrs Karašausks’s chip off the goal line. Though Turkey made the breakthrough, Šabala’s last-gasp intervention rescued a draw for the Latvians, leaving Turkey seven points behind the Czech Republic, in second, with three games to play.

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