Turkey retain top spot in France’s group with draw in Paris – but could be in hot water after military-salute celebration of equaliser despite UEFA probe
- Substitute Olivier Giroud put France ahead just four minutes after coming on
- But sub Ayhan equalised for Turkey with a far-post header in the 81st minute
- The Turkey players celebrated the dramatic equaliser with a military salute
- UEFA launched an investigation after a similar celebration last Friday
Turkey’s Kaan Ayhan punished France for wasting chances with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw in the Stade de France which keeps Group H open.
Substitute Olivier Giroud thought he had rescued the hosts with a goal just four minutes after coming off the bench in the second half of their Euro 2020 qualifier, but Ayhan’s far-post header from a free-kick with nine minutes to go left the two teams level on 19 points, with Iceland closing to within four points after their win over Andorra.
Turkey players celebrated with a military salute despite UEFA launching an investigation into a similar celebration during Friday’s 1-0 win against Albania.
Turkey players celebrated Kaan Ayhan’s late equaliser with a military salute on Monday night
France: Mandanda, Pavard, Varane, Lenglet, Lucas, Tolisso, Matuidi (Lemar 77), Sissoko, Griezmann, Coman (Ikone 87), Ben Yedder (Giroud 72).
Subs Not Used: Kante, Maignan, Areola, Plea, Digne, Sidibe, Zouma, Ndombele, Kimpembe.
Booked: Lucas, Griezmann.
Goals: Giroud 76.
Turkey: Gunok, Celik (Ayhan 53), Demiral, Soyuncu,Meras, Yokuslu (Calhanoglu 46), Tufan (Tosun 81), Tekdemir, Kahveci, Karaman, Yilmaz.
Subs Not Used: Cakir, Bayram,Turuc, Bolat, Sangare, Yazici, Unal, Kabak,Emre.
Booked: Tosun, Kahveci, Karaman.
Goals: Ayhan 81.
Ref: Felix Brych (Germany).
Turkey’s 1-0 win in Istanbul came on Friday, amid Turkish army clashes with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria
Everton star Cenk Tosun posted the salute photo on Instagram, with the message: ‘For our nation, especially for the ones who are risking their lives for our nation.’
UEFA does not allow political gestures.
French police were on high alert after president Emmanuel Macron said Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces in Syria could lead to an ‘unsustainable humanitarian situation’ and ‘threatened to help the Islamic State group re-emerge in the region’.
With up to 40,000 Turkey fans expected at the stadium, some 1,000 police officers were on duty in and around the Stade de France to prevent potential crowd trouble, but the atmosphere remained peaceful throughout the evening.
‘We could have avoided that goal,’ France coach Didier Deschamps said.
‘We did everything we needed to win that game, we had the chances, they didn’t, but it is what it is.
Turkey equalised through Ayhan’s far-post header from a free-kick with nine minutes to go
‘It’s a good point. We’ll have to finish the job in November,’ he added, saying Turkey, who have picked up four points against France, deserved to top the group.
‘We are the two best teams in the group. Qualifiers are always complicated, it’s a long road. We should have been more efficient. They defended a lot and they deserve to be where they are.’
It was a laboured performance from the world champions, only lifted by Chelsea forward Giroud’s third goal in four internationals, having scored the winner against Iceland on Friday.
But the celebrations for his 38th goal for France, three short of Michel Platini’s record for the country, was short-lived when Ayhan struck.
Nine minutes from time Ayhan drifted in at the far post to nod in Hakan Calhanoglu’s free-kick
France had 12 shots in the first half to their opponents’ one and 64 per cent possession, but they found it hard to break down the visitors.
Things did not get any better for them after the break: 11 more shots, only three on target and, crucially, only one goal.
With Giroud on the bench Wissam Ben Yedder was given a run up front but that placed even more responsibility on Antoine Griezmann against a team beat France 2-0 in Konya in June – a win which keeps them top of the table because of having the better head-to-head record.
The Barcelona forward had a number of half-chances in the opening 45 minutes but failed to properly test Fehmi Mert Gunok, once shooting straight at the goalkeeper for Moussa Sissoko to blaze over the rebound and on another occasion curling a left-footed shot wide of the post.
Substitute Olivier Giroud scored for France just four minutes after coming off the bench
Sissoko was also not without blame as he squandered chances and France became guilty of over-complicated play in and around the penalty area as the clocked ticked towards the hour mark.
They were almost hit with a sucker punch when a rare Turkey counter-attack saw Burak Yilmaz’s half-volley fly over the crossbar from a good position.
Ben Yedder’s frustrating night was ended in the 72nd minute when he was replaced by Giroud.
It took the 33-year-old less four minutes to make the difference, powering home an angled header from Griezmann’s corner.
However, nine minutes from time Ayhan drifted in at the far post to nod in Hakan Calhanoglu’s free-kick.