Friday, March 22, 2013

Romania 2 - Hungary 2; Netherlands 3 - Estonia 0; Turkey 2 - Andorra

Turkey went into Andorra la Vella to face Andorra and to revive their faltering campaign.  A great free kick on the half hour mark from Selcuk Inan bounced off the goalkeeper's hand on its path goalward, giving Turkey the opener.  In stoppage time, a half-field run from Turkey captain Arda Turan led to an open look for Burak Yilmaz, who made no mistake with the finish, putting Turkey ahead 2-0 at the break.

Turan nearly had Turkey's third, but his bounced volley was pushed aside by Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes.  Turkey had an open goal at its mercy, but Umut Bulut somehow botched a volleyed shot from six yards away.  After a poor giveaway, Andorra were through in on goal, but Sebastian Gomez saw his shot sail high with only the goalkeeper to beat.  In stoppage time, Turan fired off the top of the crossbar from distance.  Turkey win 2-0.

Hungary were looking to wrestle control of second place at home in Budapest against Romania.  The fans were absent from the venue due to their anti-Semitism displayed in a friendly against Israel.  At the quarter hour mark, Tamas Hajnal stood over a free kick for Hungary.  His delivery was headed home with power by Vilmos Vanczak, and the home side led 1-0, though Romania center back Dorin Voian really should have won the header.  As the standings suggested, the sides were evenly matched, and Romania had its fair share of chances, but no further goals were found in the first forty-five.

Hungary had the first warning shot of the second half, but Romania were the side to find the next goal.  A bouncing through ball had to be won by Gheorghe Grozav, who tapped the ball behind after beating two Hungarians to the spot.  Adrian Mutu collected and was clipped on the edge of the penalty area by Zsolt Korcsmar.  The penalty kick was converted by Mutu, who began Romania's joint all-time leading scorer with the goal.  Voian continued his awful game by conceding a penalty three minutes later after clipping Korcsmar in the other box.  Poor transistion defense cost Hungary the win in stoppage time as three Hungarian defenders converge and failed to clear or even contact a hopeful through ball to no one.  After all the misses, Romania substitute Alexandru Chipciu came up golden with the equalizer.  The 2-2 draw now gives Romania the inside track to finish group runners-up.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands national side welcomed Estonia.  Perhaps the Dutch were too welcoming in the first period, as the only chance of any note was a pair of strikes Konstantin Vassiljev within the span of four seconds as the initial rebound off the gloves of goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer forced himself into a second save coming out of a prone position.  The lackluster first half was a scoreless one.

The deadlock was broken two minutes after the resumption of play by a Rafael van der Vaart shot that dribbled in from the penalty spot after being deflected on its way to goal.  Netherlands' attack awoke after the first goal, and the match tilted in their favor.  A Daryl Janmaat cross was met with an airborne volley redirect by Robin van Persie to put the Dutch ahead by two goals with less than twenty minutes to play.  Martin Vunk should have pulled one back as he found himself alone against a hesitant Vermeer, but he skied his shot despite the lack of defensive pressure.  A van Persie cross six minutes from time was somehow missed by Arjen Robben, but the rebound off the grass fell to Ruben Schaken, who finished far post through traffic to extend the lead.  The Netherlands win 3-0 to inch ever closer to Brasil 2014.

Netherlands 15 pts +14
Hungary 10 pts +5
Romania 10 pts +4
Turkey 6 pts 0
Estonia 3 pts -8
Andorra 0 pts -15

Selcuk Inan 30
Burak Yilmaz 45+2

Vilmos Vanczak 16
Balazs Dzsudzsak 71 PK

Adrian Mutu 68 PK
Alexandru Chipciu 90+2

Rafael van der Vaart 47
Robin van Persie 72
Ruben Schaken 84

Match Reports:

Highlights: (Turkey v. Andorra) (Romania v. Hungary) (Netherlands v. Estonia)

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