Turkey remains in contention for Euro knockout rounds with victory over Czech Republic 
Czech Republic's Tomas Necid kicks the ball as Turkey's Selcuk Inan looks on. AP

LENS, France — Turkey rebounded from two losses at the European Championship to beat the Czech Republic, 2-0, on Tuesday and keep alive its chances of reaching the knockout stages from Group D.

With their team having failed to score in its defeats to Spain and Croatia, some Turkish fans celebrated with firecrackers and flares that landed on the pitch after the second goal at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Turkey must now wait until the final group matches are played on Wednesday to discover whether it can advance as one of the four best third-place teams. Croatia won Group D after beating two-time defending champion Spain 2-1 to finish with seven points.

Spain has six points, Turkey has three and the Czechs are eliminated with one point, 20 years after their team reached the final and 40 years after becoming European champions as Czechoslovakia.

Both teams in Lens on Tuesday needed a win to advance.

Turkey coach Fatih Terim stuck by striker Burak Yilmaz, despite his disappointing performances in earlier matches, and the act of faith paid off.

Yilmaz struck early, rounding off a swift counter attack just 10 minutes into the game. Emre Mor broke down the right flank before crossing for Yilmaz, who beat Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech at the near post with a first-time right shot.

"I am very happy, I scored a very important goal in a deciding game," Yilmaz said. "It's been a good night and a good goal for me. I hope we'll advance."

As the Czechs pushed forward, they also opened up their defense for the Turkish attack.

Ozan Tufan doubled the lead in the 65th minute, hammering a rising shot past Cech from close range following a free kick by Selcuk Inan. '

"It's a huge disappointment for us," Cech said.

Ahead of the tournament, the Arsenal keeper had said he would decide after Euro 2016 whether to retire from international football. He didn't immediately comment on it Tuesday.

For Turkey, there is still hope.

"If we advance, we can do what we did in Euro 2008, because our confidence is growing now," Terim said.

Eight years ago, Turkey came back from two goals down to beat the Czech Republic, 3-2, in their final group game, a result sent the Turks on the road to an eventual spot in the semifinals, their best ever result.

"We still have some problems, but now it's easier for us to find solutions," Terim said. "Now we've got our team spirit back. If we advance, I think we have a long way to go. I would be really frustrated if we are out."


The 18-year-old Mor looked particularly sharp for Turkey, smashing a shot wide from inside the area in the first half and cutting in before missing the target on another fast counter in the second.

"He was our saviour tonight," Terim said. "He made his presence felt."

Volkan Sen's low drive just missed the target in another good chance of the first half, while captain Arda Turan headed over the bar 15 minutes from the end.

For the Czechs, Tomes Sivok almost equalized six minutes after the opening goal. But set up by Borek Dockal's cross, his effort hit the post.

The Czechs clearly missed their creative force, injured captain and playmaker Tomas Rosicky, and squandered their chances.

"The first goal really changed the match a lot," said Czech coach Pavel Vrba, whose side had drawn 2-2 with Croatia in its previous game. "We didn't manage to stop their breaks. We had some chances in the first half but we didn't score.

"In the second half we started to play in a more simple way but lost it in midfield. Our tactics from the Croatia game didn't work this time."


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