Football / World Cup: England overcome Turkish aggression: Platt and Gascoigne keep their heads in hostile atmosphere

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Turkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

ENGLAND emerged from a scruffy match, played in a malevolent atmosphere, with the World Cup points they wanted, a fortune in small change, and the feeling that if they never return to Turkey it will be fine by them.

Pelted by coins, and worse, off the pitch, the victims of some spitefully provocative fouls on it, Graham Taylor's make-do-and-mend team showed commendable restraint in letting goals from David Platt and Paul Gascoigne provide their answer.

It was not the thumping win Taylor had called for to take England to the top of Group Two, but in the circumstances, with so many good players injured, and Lee Dixon forced to withdraw at half-time, the performance was praiseworthy, if chiefly for its discipline.

The standard of play was depressingly poor, but in England's case there were good reasons for that. Ten of them to be precise, with nine casualties left at home and Les Ferdinand unable to shake off his hip injury in time to win his second cap.

Turkey had no such excuses. Their midfield play is attractive and inventive, but they defend like amateurs and lose all trace of composure when the goalposts loom into view. The poverty of their finishing helps to explain why they have never scored against England, and how they came to be held goalless by little San Marino three weeks ago.

Bad play is forgivable, bad behaviour on last night's scale is not, and the report submitted by the Fifa observer should make interesting reading. If there is no inquiry, he will have failed in his duty as badly as the Italian referee, Fabio Baldas, who picked up on the minor assaults but missed most of the criminal damage.

That the environment should be hostile was no surprise. Less expected, judging by the terrified look on their faces, was that the England players should be the target of coins, fireworks, boiled eggs and anything else that came to hand. Chris Woods was struck after the warm-up and Carlton Palmer and Ian Wright suffered direct hits at the end of the game.

From bad to worse. An English fan may lose an eye after getting a brick in the face and a Football Association councillor, Frank Hannah, was left dazed by a blow on the head from another missile. At home, there would have been outrage and prompt police action. Here, nobody turned a hair - apart from a few English ones going prematurely grey. In Turkey, it seems, anything goes. One firecracker landed in the press box, setting fire to a Turkish journalist's hair. When we were able to stop ducking and concentrate on the football, it was to applaud Platt's 10th goal in as many internationals, and his 17th in all.

The captain's latest strike came early enough - in the sixth minute - to banish all English apprehension, other than fears for the players' safety. Gascoigne's second, as the first half went into its sixth minute of injury time, removed the threat of Turkey burgling a point.

Platt was both brave and foolish to risk the wrath of the mob by fouling Mehmet straight from the kick-off. Turkish retribution was swift and painful, Bulent flooring Dixon with an elbow in the face. To England's consternation, the referee contented himself with some histrionic finger- wagging, and the pattern was set.

It was fitting, given Turkey's aggressive attitude, that a foul, and the consequent free-kick, should supply England's first goal. Tugay's push on Ian Wright enabled John Barnes to deliver the ball for Platt to profit from some woeful marking by scoring unattended, at nodding range.

Another assault on poor Dixon saw Tugay booked, to the irritation of the crowd. They needed little excuse to rain down their rubbish, and were further incensed, with ugly consequences, when Bulent left the field, temporarily, and Engin, permanently, with a head wound and a broken hand, respectively. No matter to the hooligans that both injuries were caused accidentally.

Turkey's substitute goalkeeper had been on for less than a minute when Gascoigne beat him, running on to an inviting cross from Paul Ince to score with a gleeful header, from 10 yards.

Dixon withdrew at half-time with a shin injury which threatens to keep him out of Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham on Sunday. It also forced England to reorganise, with Ince and Gascoigne required to play out of position.

Ince, no stranger to defensive duties, slotted in capably at right-back, but Gascoigne's potential as a play- maker is negated when he plays anywhere other than in midfield, and Turkey were able to profit from his redeployment.

They knocked the ball around nicely at times and, with a striker worth the name, they would probably have had the rare consolation of a goal. That they were left scoreless, yet again, was largely down to one man. This was expected to be Ian Wright's night, the game in which he would break his duck as an international goalscorer, but it was his Arsenal team-mate, Tony Adams, who caught the eye with a towering contribution at the heart of England's defence.

After enduring so many problems - many, it must be said, of his own making - he deserved full credit for re-establishing himself and making the centre-half position his own.

Adams was reliability personified, making a couple of last-ditch tackles of which any defender in the world would have been proud. Wright, on the other hand, had a disappointing match, and is still looking for that elusive goal after a night when none of the Turkish defenders bought his feints and dummies, and he was again open to criticism for his shortcomings when the requirement is to hold the ball and set up others.

TURKEY: Engin (Fenerbahce); Recep (Besiktas), Ogun (Trabzonspor), Ali (Besiktas), Tugay (Galatasaray), Bulent (Galatasaray), Feyyaz (Besiktas), Unal (Trabzonspor), Mehmet (Besiktas), Oguz (Fenerbahce), Orhan (Trabzonspor). Substitutes: Hayrettin (Galatasaray) for Engin, 44; Hami (Trabzonspor) for Recep, 69.

ENGLAND: Woods (Sheffield Wednesday); Dixon (Arsenal), Sinton (Queen's Park Rangers), Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Walker (Sampdoria), Adams (Arsenal), Platt (Juventus), Gascoigne (Lazio), Barnes (Liverpool), Wright (Arsenal), Ince (Manchester United). Substitutes: Clough (Nottingham Forest) for Dixon, 45; Sharpe (Manchester United) for Wright, 85.

Referee: F Baldas (Italy).

(Photograph omitted)

Comments