Wales’ hopes of reaching Euro 2024 took another huge blow as Turkey left it late before sealing a 2-0 win against the 10-man visitors in Samsun.
The Wales defence came under heavy criticism after its performance against Armenia on Friday, and it looked like they had been caught out once more when Chris Mepham turned the ball into his own net after nine minutes – only for VAR to rule the goal out for offside.
It was looking like a mostly positive half for Wales until Joe Morrell, one of two changes made for Wales, went high into a challenge with Ferdi Kadioglu and was shown a straight red card by referee Fabio Maresca.
Wales almost took the lead from nothing, as Turkey failed to deal with a clearing ball before Merih Demiral brought down Dan James, and from the resulting free-kick Harry Wilson forced a top-class save out of Mert Gunok.
As the hour mark ticked by Turkey were still struggling to break down Wales, but were handed a golden opportunity when Aaron Ramsey was penalised for handball in the area.
Up stepped Turkey talisman and Inter Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, but his penalty was a nice height for Ward, who got down to his right to turn the ball away from danger.
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Moments later, Turkey thought they had taken the lead once more, as Ward failed to deal with a low cross and substitute Umut Nayir turned the ball in.
However, VAR intervened once again and ruled the striker had controlled the ball with his arm.
Nayir then rose between Wales defenders to head an effort towards goal which Ward could only push inside his near post, taking away from his earlier penalty heroics.
And it was another substitute, Arda Guler, who put the result beyond doubt as he curled a superb effort from the edge of the Wales box into the top corner of the net with Ward rooted to the spot.
Victory leaves Turkey in pole position in Group D, while Wales could already be staring down the barrel of the play-offs if they are to reach Euro 2024.
Written by: Debby Eselebor
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