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Asatiani leaves it late to level

Saturday, 4 September 2004

By Türker Tozar at the Hüseyin Avni Aker stadium

[1] Malkhaz Asatiani came off the bench to score an unlikely 85th-minute equaliser as Georgia prevented new Turkey coach Ersun Yanal from getting off to a winning start in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 2.

Tekke opener

[2] Despite the 59th-minute dismissal of Hasan Sas for a second yellow card, Turkey were well in control thanks to Fatih Tekke's headed goal at the Hüseyin Avni Aker as the game ticked towards full time. The 80th-minute introduction of Asatiani changed the course of the game, however, as he headed in a free-kick from Gocha Jamarauli soon after. Turkey now travel to Greece on Wednesday, while Georgia entertain Albania - 2-1 victors against the European champions tonight.

Surprise selection

[3] Yanal sprung a surprise in his team selection, picking Deniz Baris even though he had played for just ten minutes of Fenerbahçe SK's four matches this season. Tuncay Sanli started on the right wing, while in-form players such as Nihat Kahveci and Gökdeniz Karadeniz could only make the bench. Emre Belözoglu was the home side's best player early on, dictating proceedings from midfield. Ümit Özat also proved influential, although his crosses could not match his industry.

Offside goal

[4] Turkey thought they had opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, only for an offside flag to curtain their celebrations after Hasan had converted Hakan Sükür's lay-off. By that time, a Georgian free-kick had rattled off the crossbar, and the visitors went close again in the 40th minute when Zurab Khizanishvili was centimetres away from touching in a corner.

Perfect centre

[5] Yanal switched Tuncay and Hasan Sas at the interval, although it took Ümit to find his range for Turkey to score their first goal on the long road to Germany; the midfield player drifting out to the left and delivering a perfect centre which Tekke headed in with 49 minutes on the clock. Veteran striker Hakan Sükür then had a chance to double Turkey's advantage but was left with his head in his hands as Akaki Devadze somehow saved his goalbound effort.

Late leveller

[6] With Hasan seeing red for a second yellow just before the hour, Yanal strengthened his midfield by introducing Trabzonspor duo Hüseyin Çimsir and Gökdeniz Karadeniz for the last 18 minutes. The pair were powerless to prevent Georgia wresting a point, though, as Asatiani reacted sharpest to flick in Jamarauli's speculative free-kick

Fatih Tekke (right) scored Turkey's goal