Fatih Terim couldn’t get them home. The third-time Turkey boss, appointed in August, had led the team to three straight wins and second in Group D. A win at home on Tuesday against the Dutch would complete their remarkable comeback and send the team into UEFA’s playoffs. When Terim came on board, Turkey sat fourth.
It wasn’t meant to be. The Netherlands, undefeated in qualifying, went up through Arjen Robben after eight minutes, giving the Dutch the 1-0 lead they’d take into halftime. Two minutes into the second half, Galatasaray playmaker Wesley Sneijder doubled the visitors’ advantage. Unable to dent the Dutch’s edge, Turkey’s turnaround ends one win short, the Netherlands taking a 2-0 win out of Istanbul.
The result means the Dutch finish qualifying undefeated, 9-1-0, at the top of Group D. It also means Romania, a team that lost at home to Turkey last month, goes into the playoffs. While they’ll be one of the sides the seeded teams won’t mind drawing, Romania will get the same opportunity Slovenia got four years ago when they upset Russia en route to South Africa. Victor Pițurcă’s team has a chance to return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998.
For Turkey, they accomplished all they could have reasonably hoped for when Terim was appointed. They salvaged their pride. Whereas they were behind the Netherlands, Romania, and Hungary when Abdullah Avcı was replaced, they end qualification knowing only a slow start (not their final quality) kept them from playing into November.
Winning in Romania was surprise enough. Toppling the Dutch may have been too fairy tale-esque. Having won three-of-four since Terim came onboard, Turkey’s reestablished who they were.
That’s no consolation when it comes to Brazil, but it will give the team direction when it comes time to start qualifying for Euro 2016.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday