SPORTS


Oman stun Turkey with sensational fightback

Baku, May 11, AZERTAC

Oman staged a thrilling second-half comeback at the Azal Arena on Thursday to beat Turkey 3-2 and go top of Group B in the Islamic Solidarity Games football competition.

Hamed Al-Azini's men had twice come from behind to draw their opener 2-2 with Palestine on Monday, but their second fightback in Baku was even more spectacular.

The Turks were rewarded for a promising start when Melih Okutan drove them ahead, before Oguzhan Kayar pounced from close range to make it two on the stroke of half-time.

But the game changed in the space of a minute before the hour mark when Bilal Al Balushi saved Muhammed Demirci's penalty and Taylan Antalyali scored an own goal.

Oman took full advantage of that swing in momentum as Salaah Al Yahyaei equalised and Muhsen Al Ghassini converted the winner from the spot.

Oman are now a point clear of Algeria at the top of the table, ahead of the north Africans' match against Palestine later in the day, while Turkey are out after successive defeats.

Nedim Yigit's European side appeared the stronger for much of the opening quarter of the match, but didn't create many chances until the deadlock was broken in the 27th minute.

Left winger Onur Eris did well to make space for a cross, which was headed down by Muhammet Besir and 20-year-old Okutan did the rest in emphatic fashion with a sweetly-timed volley.

The underdogs were spending an increasing amount of time on the edge of their own penalty area and fell further behind to the last kick of the first 45 minutes.

Demirci's free-kick from the left-hand side looked routine for Al Balushi, but the keeper inexplicably dropped the ball at the feet of Kayar, who gratefully knocked it in.

Like in the game against Palestine, Oman grew into the match after the break.

They kept themselves in the contest as after Kayar went down in the area, Al Balushi gained redemption for his earlier mistake by diving to his left to keep out Demirci's penalty.

That moment inspired Oman and they pulled one back just a minute later.

Turkey failed to clear a routine set-piece and captain Antalyali deflected the ball into the roof of his own net.

Oman were totally transformed in the second period and they got back on level terms in the 64th minute, as Al Yahyaei bore down on goal and drilled a shot that Erhan Erenturk couldn't get a strong enough hand to.

The fightback was completed just five minutes later when Oman won a spot-kick of their own and midfielder Al Ghassini stepped up to find the corner.

Turkey pulled themselves together and pushed for a leveller late on, but Al Balushi made a brilliant stop with his feet to help his team cling on for a shock win.

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