France boss Didier Deschamps reacts to shock Turkey loss in Euro 2020 qualifying

Press Association Sport 09:51 09/06/2019
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Didier Deschamps admitted France’s 2-0 defeat to Turkey in Euro 2020 qualifying was a slap in the face for his World Cup winners.

First-half goals from Kaan Ayhan and the impressive Cengiz Under were enough to earn Turkey a first ever win over France and a three-point lead in Group H.

Deschamps, whose side did not even manage a shot on target and must bounce back against Andorra on Tuesday, told TF1: “When the team performs like that, there is nothing positive to take away from it.

“We did not turn up and even if we are world champions, if we play like that we have no hope.

“We took a good slap tonight. We have to analyse it, we have another match to come in three days.

“Nothing more to add apart from to say well done to Turkey, and to get back to basics.”

Midfielder Moussa Sissoko told L’Equipe’s television channel: “There are no excuses, we know the areas we fell short – pretty much everywhere.

“There are plenty of matches left. In the past, we have made these mistakes and we have always bounced back.

“We have a team with quality, with talent, we must do everything to avoid this type of performance.”

Turkey coach Senol Gunes reflected on an “awesome” night for his side, who dominated the scoring chances despite France having more possession.

Gunes told Spor Arena: “This team is here to give both hope and happiness.

“The players and fans were awesome. We played with discipline and with one heart.”

Turkey next face an Iceland side who lie level with France on six points from three games.

Turkish Football Federation president Nihat Ozdemir, who only took the job on Monday, revealed he had received a congratulatory phone call after the match from the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozdemir, quoted by Sabah Spor, said: “Mr President called me on the phone. He thanked me, congratulated our players and coach Senol.

“We have nine points and we are the leader in the group. We have an important game against Iceland ahead of us, I hope we come back with the victory.”

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Netherlands can't just focus solely on Cristiano Ronaldo in Nations League final, warns Daley Blind

Press Association Sport 00:36 09/06/2019
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Defender Daley Blind warned the Netherlands they cannot afford to focus solely on the threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo when they take on Portugal in the inaugural Nations League final.

The Estadio do Dragao in Porto will host the European champions’ bid to secure silverware on home soil against Ronald Koeman’s rejuvenated Dutch side.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Portugal roared past Switzerland in Wednesday’s semi-final, but former Manchester United man Blind will not get caught in the trap of focusing on one man.

After all, the 29-year-old has already got the better of one of the world’s greatest ever players this season as surprise package Ajax knocked perennial Serie A champions Juventus out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.

“With Ajax we planned to stop Juventus, not just Cristiano Ronaldo,” Blind said.

“And it’s the same now – we have to stop Portugal, not Ronaldo.

“Of course, he is a player who can make the difference, but we have to be prepared for all the Portuguese players.

Daley Blind and the Dutch set up a Nations League final showdown with Portugal after a 3-1 win over England.

Daley Blind and the Dutch set up a Nations League final showdown with Portugal after a 3-1 win over England.

“There are enough videos of Portugal’s previous match that we can analyse.

“It’s a great feeling to be playing the final with your country and having the opportunity to win a prize. It’s different than when you play for your club.

“We’ve got a great group of players, all hungry for success. If you reach the end you want to win. It’s the first Nations League, so we can write history by winning it.”

Koeman believes highly-rated defensive duo Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt have the ability to thwart Ronaldo, of whom Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio says the squad are “very proud”.

But, much like Blind, the Wolves shot-stopper pointed to the fact that Fernando Santos’ side reached the final due to a team effort.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to work with Cristiano,” he said at the pre-match press conference.

“On and off the pitch he’s a fantastic professional. We are very proud of him and we learn a lot from him.

“We are all playing to win here, not just Cristiano. We all want to win this trophy. He works every day for that, just like we all do.

Blind enjoyed a memorable 2018/19 campaign with Ajax.

Blind enjoyed a memorable 2018/19 campaign with Ajax.

“It’s great that he scored a hat-trick against Switzerland, but he does not have any additional responsibilities on his shoulders. He does what we all do, which is to fight for this trophy.”

Portugal lifted the European Championship trophy in 2016, having lost the final to Greece on home soil 12 years earlier.

This time around, Patricio is keen to secure a trophy in front of his compatriots and knows the Dutch will pose a tough threat.

“We are very proud to be playing on home soil, and all the more because it’s the final,” the goalkeeper added. “It is perfect to play here.

“They are a very strong team, like all teams in these finals. Their players are technically and tactically well-evolved, but playing the final at home, we’ll do our best to win. It will, without doubt, be a fantastic game.”

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Wales' Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Croatia "one that got away", says Ryan Giggs

Press Association Sport 22:10 08/06/2019
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Ryan Giggs described Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Croatia as “one that got away” after his side failed to take late chances in Osijek.

Wales went down 2-1 in searing temperatures after the World Cup finalists had dominated the opening hour to lead through a James Lawrence own goal and an Ivan Perisic strike at the start of the second half.

But Wales rallied in the final half-hour and substitute David Brooks gave them hope 13 minutes from time with a deflected drive.

Brooks and Gareth Bale then had chances to equalise in the closing stages and snatch an unlikely point, but Croatia held on to leapfrog Wales in Group E.

“I’m obviously disappointed not to get something out of the game with the chances we had,” Giggs said.

“We had so many good chances and we didn’t manage to put them away. We didn’t really play well and gave away two poor goals.

“When you don’t play like you can do and still create chances against this top team, it’s disappointing.

“I said to the players, we’ve missed a chance, especially with the way we ended the game, we ended so strong.

“We looked the fitter side at the end. We looked like the ones pushing and it looked like Croatia were hanging on.

“When you end the game like that, you’ve got to be disappointed and it’s definitely one that got away.”

Brooks, who missed out on a starting spot after injury, made an impact in the final 25 minutes as players began to toil in the 30-degree heat.

The Bournemouth forward scored his first international goal and is in contention to start against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday.

“He’s only trained two days and missed the last few games for Bournemouth,” said Giggs, explaining Brooks’ omission.

“He scored the goal and looked lively when he came on, but he couldn’t have started the game because he’s only done two days and you saw the conditions and we have other players fit.

“We have a game on Tuesday as well, so they’re the reasons really.

“It was difficult leaving him on the bench, but it was the right thing to do.

“But he is in the reckoning for Tuesday and I would imagine there will be changes.”

New Man United signing Daniel James looked menacing at times for Wales.

New Man United signing Daniel James looked menacing at times for Wales.

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic felt the hot conditions actually worked against his side.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric dictated the tempo in the opening hour, but the game became an end-to-end exercise in the final 30 minutes.

“It was a very tough game,” Dalic said. “We started well as planned, but the heat and the conditions killed us.

“Every time a player went to sprint, they had to take a rest.

“Wales played well, but the only important thing for us was the win and the three points which we wanted.

“It is going to be difficult for us, but we know we are still the favourites in this group.

“We are aiming for first place and I think Wales and Slovakia are the best candidates for second.”

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