Portugal fend off Turkey in WC Playoff

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Portugal fend off Turkey in WC Playoff

Portugal overcame Turkey in the World Cup playoff semifinals to keep alive their dream of reaching Qatar for football’s showpiece event.

Otávio da Silva, Diogo Jota, Matheus Nunes scored one goal apiece to lead their team to a 3-1 win over a spirited Turkey side. Burak Yilmaz missed a late penalty to tie the scores at 2-2 before Nunes scored in added time to put the game beyond Turkey’s reach.

With both teams facing a win-or-go-home scenario, Portugal took an early lead through 27-year-old Porto attacker Otavio, who put Bernardo Silva’s deflected shot off the post into the back of the net.

Otavio then set up Portugal’s second with a cross that Diogo Jota headed past Turkey goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir to take Fernando Santos’ side to a 2-0 lead at half-time.

Turkey cut the hosts’ lead in half on 65 minutes when Burak Yilmaz put the finishing touches on a nifty give-and-go with Cengiz Under to bring his side back in the contest.

VAR handed Turkey a golden chance to level the score from the penalty spot after a pitchside review showed Jose Fonte had fouled Enes Unal in the area, but Yilmaz skied his effort over the crossbar as Portugal hung on to their lead.

Matheus Nunes put Portugal’s fears to rest in second-half stoppage time, beating Cakir on the tail end of a clever move to help his side advance to their respective playoff final.

Portugal will face North Macedonia, who beat Italy 1-0 in one of the day’s other semifinals, on Tuesday with a spot at the 2022 World Cup on the line.

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