Turkey defeated the Netherlands 4-2 at Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Wednesday to start their 2022 FIFA World Cup journey in strong fashion.
Burak Yilmaz scored a hat-trick to send his team to victory in the opening match of the European World Cup qualifiers.
Yilmaz broke the deadlock with an early long-range shot in the 15th minute.
In the 33rd minute, Okay Yokuslu was brought down by Donyell Malen inside the box, a penalty given to Turkey. Yilmaz converted to double the lead in Istanbul.
The first half ended 2-0.
Turkey made a great start to the second half when Hakan Calhanoglu made a classy long shot in the 46th minute.
After having troubles in defense, the Turkish national team found themselves going from a comfortable 3-0 lead to a precarious 3-2 advantage.
The Netherlands scored a quickfire double in the 75th and 76th minutes to create a chance to level the match on goals by Davy Klaassen and Luuk De Jong.
Yilmaz, however, crushed the hopes of the Dutch with a great free-kick in the 81st minute.
In the dying minutes, goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir saved Memphis Depay’s penalty kick, putting the cherry on top.
Yilmaz, 35, became the first player to score a hat-trick against the Netherlands since 1980.
– Turkey always focuses on winning: Senol Gunes
“We are going through an extraordinary period. Not making excuses, we focus on winning the game,” Turkish national team manager Senol Gunes said after the match.
Gunes said that having good faith and confidence, the team wished to make a good start, being aware of the difficulty.
“The Turkish team always aims to win the game,” he added.
Dutch national team manager Frank de Boer congratulated Turkey, saying his team was punished but there are nine more group games ahead.
“A big step for the Turkish team. We want to show our power in the Latvia game three days later,” de Boer added.