ISTANBUL - European champions Spain came from a goal down and snatched a stoppage-time winner to beat Turkey 2-1 in a World Cup Group Five qualifier on Wednesday. The win reinforced the Spaniards' dominance of the group which they lead on 18 points, followed by Bosnia on 12. Third-placed Turkey face an uphill battle on eight points with four games remaining. Driven on by passionate home support in Istanbul's Ali Sami Yen stadium, Turkey made a positive start and exerted pressure on Spain in the opening stages. But it was the visitors who had the first clear chance, with Albert Riera driving in a powerful shot from outside the penalty area which forced a diving save from Volkan Demirel after 13 minutes. Semih Senturk put Turkey ahead in the 26th minute, tapping the ball in from a pass by Tuncay Sanli. Tuncay had the chance to double Turkey's lead but failed to connect with a long ball which ran through to Casillas and Nihat Kahveci sent a shot over the bar. Nihat began the second half in the same fashion, firing over the bar with only Casillas to beat. Spain made the hosts pay for their missed chances when Xabi Alonso equalised with a 63rd-minute penalty after Ibrahim Uzulmez handled. The equaliser stirred the home side back into action. In the 72nd minute Semih Senturk just failed to connect with a cross from Tuncay in front of Casillas. The visitors then grabbed the winner in stoppage-time when substitute Daniel Guiza, who plays for Turkish side Fenerbahce, set up Riera and the winger fired past Volkan. Wednesday's win extended Spain's unbeaten run to 31 matches, stretching back to a 1-0 home defeat by Romania in November 2006.
1 April 2009
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