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FIFA U-17 WC Match Report Turkey vs New Zealand: Turks held by fighting Kiwis in their opening group stage fixture

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New Zealand and Turkey opened their FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 campaigns with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Group B on a steamy evening in Navi Mumbai.

New Zealand’s Oliver Whyte who scored against England in a practice game a few days back, was pushed to the bench after he suffered a knock at the same match. As for the Turks, Recep Gul led the side which opted for a 4-3-3 formation against an opposition who lined up in a 4-1-3-2 shape.

The Turkish side overpowered their opponents in the beginning as their midfield pushed up-front. It was on the seventh minute that Mehmet Hacioglu’s young guns came close to registering the first goal when Melih Gokcimen’s cross from the left hit the mesh of the goalpost. Moments later when the ball was fed to Atalay Babacan, the Galatasaray midfielder shot from a close range however his attempt flew over the target.

Four minutes later, the Kiwis bounced back well as Sinclair’s attempt, from outside the box, missed the target by a couple of inches; a build-up which was initiated by skipper Max Mata and midfielder Elijah Just.

It was in the 19th minute that the deadlock was broken; Turkey’s number 7 Ahmed Kutucu headed the ball into the back of the net, hereby beating his marker as well as the Kiwi shot-stopper Jacob Clark.
The rest of the first half was somewhat played in the midfield with both the teams having almost equal share of ball possession. At the end of the first half, the score board at DY Patil Stadium was 1-0 in favour of the European giants.

The start of the other half brought a somewhat bright phase for New Zealand as they registered the equalising goal just around the one hour mark. A quick free-kick for Danny Hay’s side saw Max Mata get the final ball which was pushed past Turkey’s custodian Berke Ozer.

The squad from Oceania, contrary to their initial half, looked much stronger in the last half an hour. Constant efforts to pull off a comeback win were witnessed from the Kiwis.

Both teams traded narrow misses the rest of the way, but New Zealand went closest, as Charles Spragg fizzed a shot just over the crossbar with 15 minutes to go, and the impressive Just hit the post in the 83rd minute.

Mata then got his second yellow card for leading with an arm five minutes into second-half injury time.

Turkey: Berke Ozer, Emirhan Civelek, Ozan Cabak, Melih Gokcimen (Berk Cetin 69′), Saham Akyuz, Kerem Kesgin, Atalay Babacan, Sefa Akgun, Recep Gul, Malik Karaahamet (Embiya Ayyildiz 63′), Ahmed Kutucu (Yunus Akgun 63′)

New Zealand: Jacob Clark, Liberato Cacace, Boyd Curry, Ben Deelay, Emelyn Wellsmore, Leon van Den Hoven, Elijah Just, Max Mata, Mathew Conroy, Kingsley Sinclair(Williem Ebbinge 79′), Charles Spragg(Matthew Palmer 81′).