In dramatic fashion, an injury-time strike by Jack Hobson-McVeigh against Turkey in Calabar on Saturday evening gave the Young All Whites their third straight draw (1-1) of the tournament and was enough to send them through to the round of sixteen.
Even with four regular starters waiting in the wings, Turkey looked a far superior side in the early going. After just five minutes they carved out an opening via some lovely midfield interplay, but Engin Bekdemir could only hammer his shot high and wide from 20 yards. The move deserved better than the finish provided. Five minutes later, Ahmet Sari had the ball in the net, but the header was waved away for a foul on the Kiwi goalkeeper.
Just up the other end, captain Gordon Murie fired a warning by bullying the ball home from close range after a deflection. The strike, however, was also ruled out, this time for offside. The dream of keeping up with the Turks didn’t last, though, as Bekdemir wriggled around his man and lobbed the keeper from 18 yards to open the scoring an t he 17th minute.
The Kiwis were keen to keep themselves in the game, but their spirits must have sunk when Josh Morrison missed the chance of a lifetime in the 29th minute. Getting first to the ball after a goal-mouth scramble, he could only conspire to hit over from five yards out. Minutes later, Sari saw a try cleared off the line as the action was getting fast and furious.
The hard-charging Kiwis seemed to go off the boil a bit at the start of the second half, just as the Turks began to up the tempo in search of a second goal. Enes Baykan had a chance to score in the 60th minute, but he couldn’t steer his close-range shot through a forest of legs. Seconds later, a free-kick by the busy Bekdemir stung the palms of Coey Turipa in the New Zealand goal.
Just as it looked like it was all over for the tired Kiwis, Hobson-McVeigh fired a stunning goal to the top corner in stoppage time to, miraculously, send the islanders through when all seemed lost.
The Turks are through to the round of sixteen as section winners, while Burkina Faso – who won their game in Enugu – finish second and New Zealand sneak through as one of the top third-place finishers. Costa Rica are officially out.
Photo courtesy Action Images
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