Sports

Euro 2020: France denied early Euro qualification

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France drew 1-1 with Turkey in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday in a match played against a backdrop of diplomatic and security tensions after Paris condemned Ankara for its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria.

Substitute Olivier Giroud headed in from a corner to put France ahead on 76 minutes at the Stade de France but Kaan Ayhan nodded in an equaliser six minutes later — a goal celebrated by a military salute in front of the Turkish supporters.

Turkey remain top of Group H above the world champions on the head-to-head rule, although France can qualify for the finals with a win at home to Moldova next month. Turkey would clinch their place by avoiding defeat against third-placed Iceland, who are four points back after beating Andorra 2-0.

“They scored a goal from a set-piece in the first match. We could have avoided it,” said France coach Didier Deschamps, whose side were beaten 2-0 by Turkey in Konya in June.

“We did what we needed to win the match based on the play and number of chances. They didn’t have many but put away a set-piece.

“We should have been more clinical even if it’s still a good point,” he added. “We’re still on track and need to finish to job in November.”

Wissam Ben Yedder replaced Giroud, Friday’s goalscorer in the 1-0 win away to Iceland, while Lucas Hernandez returned at left-back at the expense of Lucas Digne.

Turkey were without injured veteran captain Emre Belozoglu, who damaged ribs during a last-gasp 1-0 victory at home to Albania last week, with Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu starting in place of Ayhan.

Police ramped up security at the Stade de France amid fears of violence, with around 3,800 Turkish fans in the designated away section but many more seated elsewhere in the ground among the 78,000 spectators.

France were deeply unhappy when Turkish supporters whistled over the French national anthem when the two countries met in the Turkish city of Konya in June. This time ‘La Marseillaise’ was applauded by the away fans.

While Antoine Griezmann has yet to properly settle at Barcelona this season, the forward emerged at the heart of France’s best moments in the first half as Turkey were forced to absorb constant pressure.

AFP

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