VAR stole the headlines last night as Gibraltar were reduced to 10-men in what would become a 6-0 defeat to Turkey in front of a hostile crowd in Istanbul.
Despite what the score line would suggest, the 10-man Gibraltar outfit put on a solid defensive performance on the night, as Julio Ribas’ men proved a tough unit to breakdown for what was a relentless Turkish attack.
With key players such as Kian Ronan, Ethan Britto and Graeme Torrilla all one booking away from suspension, Gibraltar shuffled the pack on the night ahead of Tuesday’s campaign closer against Latvia at home.
Turkey, who were in need of a win to keep pace with Netherlands and Norway atop the group, started the game as they meant to continue and were immediately on the attack and camped inside Gibraltar’s half.
Gibraltar defended well in the opening exchanges but were unlocked by a moment of brilliance from Galatasaray forward Aktürkoglu who linked up with Turkey captain Burak Yilmaz before going on a mazey run into the Gibraltar box and firing the hosts into the lead with a low driven effort in the 11th minute.
Despite going a goal down early on, Gibraltar held their shape well and looked to cause Turkey problems with the speed and link up play of Julian Valarino and Tjay De Bar.
Unfortunately for Gibraltar however, their positive response to going a goal down was quickly halted after Jayce Olivero was harshly shown a red card for a tackle on Zeki Çelik in the 20th minute.
The young left-back appeared to have won the ball with his tackle, however, a VAR review followed by an on-pitch review by the referee on the night resulted in a red card being shown and Gibraltar being cut down to 10-men.
Already facing a hostile crowd and an unrelenting Turkish assault, Julio Ribas’ men regrouped in defence and continued to frustrate the home-side and their fans.
Led by the tireless Ylimaz, Turkey’s attack did not waiver, however, Gibraltar’s goalkeeper Dayle Coleing would once again make his mark during these qualifiers as he pulled off an impressive double save from close range on the half hour mark before denying Dervisoglu from point balnk range to keep it 1-0.
With this being said, it wasn’t long until the Galatasaray man would get his name on the scoresheet as he rifled in Turkey’s second of the game in the 38th minute from the edge of the area following some tidy build up play around Gibraltar’s compact defence.
Having been heavily involved in the first two goals, Yilmaz would end the half with a hat-trick of assists as a quick free-kick saw the Lille front-man released down Gibraltar’s left flank. The Turkey captain kept himself onside and played a low cross into the box for Dervisoglu to run onto and tap into the net in the 41st minute.
Turkey almost made it four in injury time through a Caner Erkin free-kick, however, Coleing was sharp on his line and quickly dived high to his left to tip the ball onto his crossbar and away from his goal before half-time.
The second half saw Gibraltar introduce Lee Casciaro and Joseph Chipolina as the 10-men went about trying to frustrate their hosts, who themselves were intent on scoring more goals to improve their goal difference.
Having proved vital to the Turkish attack in the first half, Yilmaz continued with his tireless running in the second half and looked to have grabbed himself a fourth assist as Dervisoglu tapped the ball into the net, however, much to the displeasure of the home crowd, the linesman raised his flag and the goal was ruled out.
Gibraltar continued to defend well with 10-men and frustrate the Turkish attack, however, the hosts would eventually grab their fourth through Atalanta centre-back Merih Demiral in the 65th minute.
With Gibraltar pinned back, the defender wandered up into the Gibrlatar box and latched onto a Ridvan cross to power the ball into the far corner for his first international goal.
The lead only seemed to spur Turkey’s attack on even more, but Gibraltar’s defence continued to repel the unrelenting assault as more and more crosses made their way into the Gibraltar penalty area.
The half-time introduction of left-back Ridvan marked a change in tactic from the home side, with the young full-back proving to be one of Turkey’s greatest threats with his curling crosses from deep.
In fact, the left-back would grab his second assist of the night 10 minutes from time as another low curling cross found the boot of Dursun who guided the ball into the net to make it 5-0.
Unfortunately for Gibraltar, Turkey would score their sixth and final goal of the evening only a few minutes later as Müldür climbed highest to connect with and guide a near post corner into the back of the net before full time.
Elsewhere in Group G, Norway was held to a 0-0 draw at home to Latvia which in turn meant Turkey’s sixth goal put them clear in second place on goal difference going into their final fixture of the campaign against Montenegro.
Gibraltar are next in action on Tuesday night when they host Latvia at the Victoria Stadium.