Louis van Gaal insisted "it will only get better" for the Netherlands after turning on the style in Tuesday's 6-1 World Cup qualifying win over Turkey in Amsterdam.

Memphis Depay scored his first international hat-trick and was joined on the scoresheet by Davy Klaassen, Guus Til and Donyell Malen in a dominant display from the Dutch.

The Netherlands opened the scoring inside 54 seconds and were three up with 38 minutes played, the fastest they have led 3-0 in a competitive match in a decade.

Turkey lost Caglar Soyuncu to a red card before half-time but profited from a mix-up at the back to add a late consolation through Cengiz Under, though it was still their heaviest defeat since losing 8-0 to England in 1984.

Oranje have won two and drawn one of their three games since van Gaal replaced Frank de Boer, scoring 11 goals in the process, yet van Gaal can see room for improvement.

"If you win 6-1, you can expect a lap of honour," he told NOS. "This is what I signed up for, for the competition. 

"I projected my vision onto the players. I did a lot of what the players wanted. I said after the Norway and Montenegro games that it was a fantastic group, and I'm saying that again now.

"They boys have lasted the whole game, which is not normal. The first goal was college football. We haven't worked on that in training, it just comes out. 

"I'm dealing with a very happy group. I have passed the first threshold and I'm very happy with it. From now on it will only get better. We were too careless in possession."

 

Depay has scored five goals for the Netherlands in their last two games and has 12 in total for 2021, equalling the record for goals in a calendar year set by Patrick Kluivert in 2000.

The Barcelona forward is now joint eighth on Oranje's all-time top-scorers list, level with Johan Cruyff and Abe Lenstra with 33 goals in 71 caps.

Depay, who made his debut under in the first of van Gaal's three spells in charge in 2013, is now looking to climb further up that legendary list.

"Cruyff and Lenstra are legends," Depay told NOS. "They have meant so much to the Dutch national team and put our football on the map.

"You can't compare anyone with that. I now have to make sure that I remain important for the team with my game and with my goals.

"I am now in the top 10 of top scorers, but I want to be in the top three one day."

The only blemish for the Netherlands came in added time when Virgil van Dijk failed to get to a short Justin Bijlow pass under pressure from Halil Dervisoglu.

Under walked the ball into an empty net and van Dijk stayed on the ground after being caught by Dervisoglu in what appeared to be an injury scare for Liverpool.

However, the centre-back – who led the way with 88 passes at the Johan Cruijff ArenA – has provided a positive update on the ankle issue.

"I'm lucky. I'm already over it," he said. "Maybe because I am so big, they think I am acting.

"But all-in-all it was a very nice evening. There is no doubt in our minds that the next two games are very important in a month's time."

The Netherlands are top of Group G with four games to go, ahead of second-placed Norway – who they still have to face at home – on goal difference.

Memphis Depay scored a hat-trick and set up another as the Netherlands thumped 10-man Turkey 6-1 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA to move to the top of their World Cup qualifying group.

Barcelona forward Depay played in Davy Klaassen to put the Dutch in front inside 54 seconds and then added a couple of his own – a brilliant strike and a penalty – before half-time.

Turkey were reduced to 10 men prior to the interval when Caglar Soyuncu was sent off and the Netherlands did not hold back, with Depay heading in from a yard out for his third of the day.

Cengiz Under profited from a defensive mistake to net a consolation, but only after substitutes Guus Til and Donyell Malen had added their names to the scoresheet in an emphatic victory for Louis van Gaal's men.

Turkey had gone unbeaten in their first five games to lead the way at the top of Group G but were behind in Amsterdam within a minute when Klaassen played a one-two with Depay and slotted in off the post.

The pair linked up again as Klaassen flicked a return pass into the path of Depay, who kept his composure to tuck the ball away from Ugurcan Cakir and put the Netherlands well on course for an eighth straight home win.

Turkey found themselves three goals down with seven minutes of the first half still to play – Depay dinking the ball down the middle from the penalty spot after Soyuncu tripped Klaassen in the box.

Soyuncu was booked for that challenge and was issued another yellow card eight minutes later for a foul Depay, who completed his first international hat-trick early in the second half.

Feyenoord midfielder Til spun his marker and blasted in his maiden Netherlands goal and fellow substitute Malen rolled a sixth into an empty net, rendering Under's late tap-in nothing but a consolation on a night to forget for Turkey.

Louis van Gaal compared the self-confidence of his Netherlands side to being like that of Formula One star Max Verstappen.

Van Gaal's Netherlands will face Turkey in a crucial top-of-the-table World Cup Group G qualifier on Tuesday.

The Netherlands are a point adrift following their 4-0 rout of Montenegro last time out and Van Gaal is happy with his team since taking over from Frank de Boer.

Van Gaal likened the Netherlands' confidence to that of Dutch driver Verstappen, who reclaimed the F1 world championship lead from Lewis Hamilton with his Dutch Grand Prix success last week.

"The most important thing, which Max [Verstappen] also has, is to have self-confidence," Van Gaal told reporters.

"Very strong confidence, and you just heard from Memphis [Depay] that he also has very strong confidence in the team.

"I am happy about that because I also have a lot of self-confidence. So, we are all on the same wavelength."

After being held 1-1 by Norway in Van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge, Oranje turned on the style in Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro at Philips Stadion.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot and added a second just after the hour mark to put the Netherlands on course for a seventh straight home win.

That was the first time in 70 caps Depay had scored the first two goals for his country in a match, the Barcelona forward taking his goals tally to 30 across that period.

Captain Georginio Wijnaldum put the result beyond doubt with the hosts' third and Cody Gakpo rounded off the scoring 14 minutes from time with his first international goal.

On Turkey, Van Gaal added: "[Turkish coach Senol Gunes] has made his team play in a very disciplined way. It's really very good to have Turkey play with discipline, and Turkey has some smart players, with players who play at top clubs, actually.

"They only have two players who play in Turkey, at least in the team we're expecting to face."

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

Turkey boss Senol Gunes admitted his team "were not good enough" after a desperate Euro 2020 campaign ended with a third straight group-stage defeat.

Having already lost to Italy and Wales in their opening two fixtures, Turkey crashed out without a single point to their name as they were beaten 3-1 by Switzerland on Sunday.

Speaking after the match, Gunes shared his belief that Turkey never recovered from a 3-0 defeat to Italy first up, though he insisted his young squad will be capable of delivering in future tournaments.

He said: "We are aware that we were not good enough. The first match had such a negative effect on my players. That can happen.

"But those players will play for Turkey for many years and they will succeed like before."

Turkey's squad was among the youngest in the tournament, and Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu echoed the sentiments of his manager 

"This tournament was such a disappointment for us. We have to learn from our mistakes but we won't lower our heads," he said.

"This is a very young team and it will definitely get better."

After firing Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title success this season, Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz failed to find the back of the net in Euro 2020.

The 35-year-old suggested he and his countrymen have lessons to learn if they are to succeed at the top level.

He said: "We could not handle playing in such a big tournament, I have to admit.

"We've qualified for the Euros, we are going really well in World Cup qualification, but I can see that we need to learn how to play these tournaments.

"That's a lesson we have to learn."

Switzerland came into their meeting with Turkey knowing that only a win would give them any chance of progressing to the knockout stages, after also losing 3-0 to Italy and being held by Wales.

And they were dragged to all three points by Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored once in each half to keep his country's hopes alive.

Reflecting on the match, Shaqiri said: "It was very important to show a reaction after the game against Italy and be more unified as a team.

"We did that from the very beginning and played our game."

Despite their best efforts, Switzerland were only able to secure third place in the group as Wales kept hold of second place by only suffering a 1-0 defeat to Italy.

Now the Swiss face a nervous wait to see if they are able to progress as one of four best third-placed teams.

Shaqiri added: "We have to wait for the other games to see what's going to happen. We just to wait and hope it will be enough to reach the next round and then we will have to start again."

Italy wrapped up a wonderful Group A campaign on Sunday as they overcame Wales 1-0 in Rome. 

The win ensured Italy finished top of their Euro 2020 group, while Wales claimed second place ahead of Switzerland, who eased past Turkey 3-1 in the day's other game.

Vladimir Petkovic's Swiss side will have to wait until the group stage finishes on Wednesday to know if they progress to the last 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers, but a fine display in Baku has put them in a strong position.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from the two games.

Italy 1-0 Wales: Azzurri match historic record

Italy's superb start to Euro 2020 continued as a third win in as many games sealed top spot in Group A.

Roberto Mancini's side are now unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions (W25 D5) since losing against Portugal in September 2018, equalling the longest unbeaten run in their history, which was set between 1935 and 1939.

The decisive goal against Wales came in the 39th minute, Matteo Pessina becoming the youngest Italian player to score on his first start at a major tournament since Antonio Cassano at Euro 2004.

Welsh hopes of clawing their way back into the game were hit in the second half when Ethan Ampadu saw red.

Aged 20 years and 279 days, Ampadu became the second-youngest player to be sent off in a European Championship match after John Heitinga (20 years 217 days) for the Netherlands against Czech Republic in 2004, while Ampadu is the outright youngest to be shown a straight red.

Wales' failure to find the back of the net means Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 11 matches in all competitions, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

Wales, however, had cause for celebration as they have now reached the knockout stages in all three of their appearances at major tournaments.

Switzerland 3-1 Turkey: Shaqiri gives Swiss hope of last-16 spot

Switzerland left it late in the group stage but belatedly turned on the style to give their chances of progressing to the knockout stages a significant boost.

It was a wonderful game, full of attacking threat from both sides, and 42 shots were attempted – a record for a group-stage game at the European Championship.

Two of those shots saw Switzerland go in at the break with a healthy lead. Haris Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri both scored from outside the penalty area, becoming the first Swiss players to do so at any European Championship, with each of their nine goals in the competition before Sunday coming from inside the area.

Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri scored again to become Switzerland's outright top scorer at major tournaments (seven – four at the World Cup and three at the European Championship).

Steven Zuber was the provider for all three of Switzerland's goals, meaning he became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game, after Portugal's Rui Costa in 2000 (v England) and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 (v Yugoslavia).

Turkey, meanwhile, became just the second nation to lose all three group-stage matches at more than one edition of the competition, having also suffered this fate at their debut tournament in 1996. Denmark were the first to suffer that fate, in 1988 and 2000.

Switzerland significantly boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages at Euro 2020 by beating Turkey 3-1 in their final Group A game. 

Vladimir Petkovic's side finished behind Italy and Wales in their group and face an anxious wait to see if they will progress as one of the four best third-placed teams, although a superb display in Baku has put them in a strong position. 

Haris Seferovic got them on their way early on from 20 yards before another fine strike from Xherdan Shaqiri put them two goals up at the break. 

Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri wrapped up Switzerland's first win of the tournament – and ensured their opponents leave the competition having failed to pick up a single point – with another wonderful finish. 

Despite Turkey's strong start, which saw Kaan Ayhan test Yann Sommer from distance, it was Switzerland who struck first, Seferovic lashing into Ugurcan Cakir's bottom-left corner after just six minutes. 

Shaqiri doubled their advantage in the 26th minute, the Liverpool forward whipping superbly past Cakir from just outside the penalty area. 

A smart save from Cakir denied a clean-through Shaqiri moments later as Switzerland threatened to run away with it, while at the other end Sommer kept out the impressive Mert Muldur on three occasions before the interval.

Switzerland continued to pour forward after the restart, with Cakir doing well to repel efforts from Breel Embolo and Seferovic, but Kahveci gave Turkey hope of a comeback with a sumptuous strike from outside the area after 62 minutes. 

Shaqiri restored Switzerland's two-goal advantage six minutes later, though, the 29-year-old applying a clinical finishing touch to Steven Zuber's pass, the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder becoming only the third player to register three assists in a single match at the European Championship.

Granit Xhaka struck the post late on as Switzerland sought in vain to overturn a goal deficit to second-placed Wales, settling instead for sending an insipid Turkey home with a whimper.

Vladimir Petkovic has asked for "solidarity" and "positivity" from Switzerland supporters ahead of the crunch Euro 2020 Group A match against Turkey on Sunday. 

A 1-1 draw with Wales was followed by a resounding 3-0 defeat to Italy to leave Switzerland's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages hanging by a thread. 

They will need to beat Turkey and hope Wales lose to Italy in the group's other game to secure a top-two finish. 

Petkovic and his players have come under intense scrutiny since the Italy defeat, but the head coach has called on Switzerland supporters to get behind the team for Sunday's clash in Baku. 

"Against Turkey we have another chance to qualify for the round of 16 and we have to bring all of our values and virtues back to the pitch, in addition to the correct tactical plan, solidarity, joy and respect. Then we can do it," he wrote in an open letter published in Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende.

"We do not always do what you expect from us. We are people who try to meet these demands, but unfortunately we do not always succeed. And that is why we need the support of all of you before this crucial game. 

"Your solidarity, your positivity. We will do everything we can to ensure that we can all be happy together on Sunday evening."

Turkey, meanwhile, have endured a dismal campaign so far, suffering defeats to Italy and Wales in their opening two games. 

They cannot finish in the top two and must beat Switzerland to come third in the group.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Granit Xhaka

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was criticised by TV pundits in Switzerland for his display in the defeat to Italy. 

Despite that, no Switzerland player has made more passes (153), had more touches (172) or made more tackles (five) than the 28-year-old at Euro 2020 so far. 

If they are going to get the win they need against Turkey, Xhaka will need to be at his best.

Turkey – Burak Yilmaz

Yilmaz enjoyed a stellar season with Lille as they swept to Ligue 1 glory but he has not got going at this tournament yet. 

He was involved in 50 per cent of Turkey’s 18 shots against Wales last time out (six shots, three chances created), although just one of those attempts was on target. 

This could be the last major tournament for the 35-year-old and he will be desperate to make his mark against the Swiss.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the second meeting between Switzerland and Turkey at a major tournament. Their first encounter was in the group phase of Euro 2008 where Switzerland, as co-hosts, lost 2-1 to Turkey.
- The last five games between Switzerland and Turkey have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.
- Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid remaining winless in all three of their group stage games at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
- Turkey have lost both of their games at Euro 2020, by an aggregate score of 0-5. In a full tournament, only Denmark in 2000 (eight) have conceded more goals without reply.
- Switzerland's loss against Italy was their first defeat in all competitions in 2021. The Swiss last lost consecutive matches in October 2020 (vs Croatia and Spain).

Roberto Mancini's Italy side scored three goals once again as they stormed into the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a 3-0 rout of Switzerland.

Italy leapfrogged Wales to the top of Group A, with Robert Page's team having beat Turkey earlier on Wednesday to give themselves a great chance of making the knockout stages.

Gareth Bale was heavily involved, teeing up both of Wales' goals either side of missing a penalty.

Elsewhere, Russia beat Finland 1-0 in Saint Petersburg to inject life into their hopes in Group B.

Italy 3-0 Switzerland: Mancini's Azzurri in rampant form

It is now 10 wins on the bounce for Italy, with 10 clean sheets to boot, and Mancini is just one game away from matching the all-time Azzurri record of 30 games unbeaten, set by Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

Remarkably, Italy had never scored three goals in a Euros match before their win over Turkey on Friday. Their successive 3-0 victories make them only the second side in European Championship history to open their tournament with consecutive wins by a three-goal margin, after the Netherlands in 2008 (3-0 v Italy, 4-1 v France).

Manuel Locatelli's double – his first for club or country – put the hosts in control at Stadio Olimpico. Only Giacomo Bulgarelli (v Switzerland in 1962) and Mario Balotelli (v Germany in 2012) have scored a brace for Italy at a major tournament at a younger age than the Sassuolo midfielder (23 years, 159 days).

Ciro Immobile rounded the win off late on with his second goal of the tournament. 

The Lazio star is the first player to score in Italy's opening two games of a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup.

Turkey 0-2 Wales: Bale spares his own blushes

Excluding penalty shootouts, Bale became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a penalty at the Euros since Raul did so for Spain against France at the 2000 tournament when the Wales captain blazed over from 12 yards midway through the second half in Baku.

Bale had previously set up Aaron Ramsey for Wales' opener in a frantic Group A clash, playing a fantastic pass over Turkey's defence – one of four chances the duo created for each other.

The 31-year-old, who created five chances in total, the record in a Euros game since at least 1980, atoned for his miss in style, charging in from a stoppage-time corner to tee up Connor Roberts to settle the contest and put Wales well in with a shout of a last-16 place.

Only world champions France (six) have won more games across Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 than Wales, who have now triumphed in five of their eight matches in the competition, boasting the highest winning percentage of all sides to have played at any European Championships (63).

Wales remain unbeaten in their six matches across all competitions in Baku (W4 D2), keeping clean sheets in each victory, while no side has suffered more defeats in the group stages of the competition than Turkey (nine, level with Russia).

Finland 0-1 Russia: Miranchuk ends goal drought 

Aleksey Miranchuk scored his first goal for Russia since November 2019 – a run of nine appearances – to secure the three points against Finland in Wednesday's early game.

The win keeps Russia's chances of qualifying for the knockout stages alive, and a Denmark victory over Belgium on Thursday would throw Group B wide open.

It was Russia's first win at the Euros since they beat the Czech Republic in 2012 (4-1) – ending a six-match winless run in the competition.

Miranchuk's goal, timed at 46:21, came after the longest wait for a shot on target in a game at Euro 2020 so far.

Since 1980, only Sweden at Euro 2016 (0) have managed fewer shots on target in their opening two games of a single European Championships tournament than Finland (two).

Aaron Ramsey quipped that he might get back on penalty duty for Wales after Gareth Bale's miss in the 2-0 win over Turkey.

Wales put themselves onto the verge of the last 16 at Euro 2020 thanks to goals from Ramsey and Connor Roberts in Baku on Wednesday.

Bale set up both goals and turned in a supreme performance overall, crafting a game-high five chances (a Euro record in a single game since at least 1980) and having five attempts himself – in total, there were 34 efforts throughout the match, the most of any game in the tournament so far.

However, the Wales captain did have some making up to do after his 61st-minute spot-kick woe, with Bale slicing his attempt way over.

Indeed, he became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a penalty at the Euros since Raul did so for Spain against France in 2000.

Asked for his thoughts on the miss, Ramsey jokingly told BBC Sport: "He's tried to wobble it into the top bins. Maybe I'll get back on them now!"

"It was a big moment but we didn't really panic, we stuck at it, we dug in and we left everything out there," the Juventus midfielder then reflected.

"That's what we've built our success on over the last few years, is really working hard for each other, and we showed that tonight."

Bale, meanwhile, took the miss in his stride, saying: "Yes, I missed the penalty but thought I showed good character to help the team, we needed that victory more than anything and to get a second goal at the end was the icing on the cake."

Though his composure from the spot was found wanting, Bale was excellent, with his link-up play with Ramsey a joy to watch at times.

They created a total of four chances for one another against Turkey, the most of any duo in a single game at Euro 2020, while at Euro 2016, the most by any pair in a single game was also Bale and Ramsey (six in a group match against Russia).

Bale played in Ramsey twice in the opening stages, but the former Arsenal man, who tallied up a non-penalty expected goals (xG) figure of 1.64, failed to find the net until the third such opportunity.

"He [Ramsey] got in a few times, we've always linked up well since our early days," Bale explained.

A raking, pinpoint pass from Bale allowed Ramsey to beat Turkey's offside trap and, after taking the ball down expertly on his chest, he finished it off coolly.

"It was a relief," Ramsey acknowledged. "I had two opportunities before that to score.

"The first half was superb, to a man. We created so many opportunities and really dominated the play. Second half we showed character, dug in, and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win in the end."

Only France (six) have won more matches across the last two European Championship finals combined than Wales (five), and Robert Page's team sit on four points from their first two Group A games.

Third place is the lowest they can finish, and a spot in the last 16 looks well within reach given the four best third-placed sides progress.

"We've given ourselves a brilliant opportunity now, we've still got a game to go, that was a really good point against Switzerland and it gave us the platform to go on and get the win," added Ramsey, who is also looking forward to a return to Italy, where he plies his trade domestically. 

"It'll be nice [going to Italy]. I've got a few team-mates playing for the national team, so that'll be nice, but I'm representing my country and want to do everything to win that game as well. It'll be a good battle!"

Wales are on the brink of the Euro 2020 knockout stages after Gareth Bale set up two goals, either side of a dismal penalty miss, to help Robert Page's team to a 2-0 win over Turkey.

Bale, who provided a sublime assist for Aaron Ramsey to break the deadlock after 42 minutes in Baku, sliced way over from 12 yards with just over an hour played, wasting the chance to put Wales clear.

Yet the Euro 2016 semi-finalists overcame the setback, holding their nerve in defence before Bale atoned with another fantastic assist, this time for Connor Roberts to score with the last kick of the game.

It took Wales, temporarily at least, top of Group A, and with the four best third-placed teams progressing into the last 16, they look well placed to make the knockouts.

Ramsey's first chance came in the sixth minute, the Juventus midfielder electing to shoot rather than square to the unmarked Kieffer Moore, with Ugurcan Cakir pulling off a fine save at his near post. 

Having been found brilliantly by Bale, Ramsey squandered another golden opportunity in the 24th minute, blazing over when one-on-one with Cakir. 

Yet amid mounting Turkey pressure, it proved third time lucky for Ramsey. Bale was the architect with another sensational pass over the defence which the former Arsenal man controlled with his chest before slotting into the bottom-left corner. 

Bale would have gone from provider to scorer had a venomous effort had enough dip to drop under the crossbar, though Wales should have been pegged back moments later. 

A corner was flicked onto Burak Yilmaz, whose acrobatic attempt flashed over from close range. 

Turkey should have been made to pay, but Bale – having drawn a clumsy tackle from Zeki Celik – sent his spot-kick soaring over. 

Danny Ward made a stunning save to deny Merih Demiral and Wales made it count – Bale driving in from a last-minute corner to tee up Roberts, who prodded home to put the last 16 firmly within reach.

Turkey face Wales in Group A hoping to continue a long streak of avoiding consecutive defeats in a meeting between two sides looking to recover from underwhelming starts to Euro 2020.

The tournament's opening fixture saw Turkey blown away by Italy in Rome, with the hosts breezing to a 3-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico. A day later, Wales were fortunate to claim a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, VAR sparing Rob Page's side as Mario Gavranovic saw a winning goal ruled out for offside.

Given the possibility for the third-placed side to progress, Wednesday's encounter in Baku is not necessarily a must-win for either side.

But both will be eager to make significant improvements from matchday one to boost their hopes of progressing to the last 16, with Turkey – seen by many as dark horses for the tournament – sure to take at least some confidence from their record of avoiding back-to-back losses.

 

Their result against Italy meant Turkey have lost all seven of their opening games at major tournaments. However, they have progressed to the knockouts the last three times they have avoided defeat in their second group-stage match (Euro 2000, World Cup 2002 and Euro 2008).

And Turkey have not lost consecutive matches in all competitions since November 2018. Under current boss Senol Gunes, enjoying his second spell in charge, they have not lost back-to-back games since April 2003.

Wales have progressed from the group in their previous two appearances at a major tournament – the 1958 World Cup and Euro 2016 – but lost their second match in each of those competitions.

Striker Kieffer Moore could be pivotal to Wales avoiding having to deal with such a setback this time around. Moore scored the equaliser against Switzerland, with five of his six international goals coming in competitive fixtures.

Having put the disappointment of the Italy game behind them, Turkey captain Burak Yilmaz says they are ready to justify their pre-tournament status as a team to watch.

"I believe the negative atmosphere from the first game is gone," he said. "We are aware of the mistakes we made. We discussed the reasons among us for the first game. Starting from tomorrow, we will show who we are, we will show our character." 

Turkey will likely still be favourites to defeat Wales, but Page insists his side are confident of putting themselves in a strong position to progress.

"We've got a game plan we want to stick to, one that we think can cause Turkey problems," said Page.

"Turkey probably looked at the fixtures coming into the tournament and saw they had a very difficult opener against the favourites Italy. They'd be looking at our game to get the three points, and we're fully prepared for that.

"But we'll be going for the win, and if you get four points from two games, it sets us up nicely."

Turkey – Cengiz Under

Few players came away with any credit from Turkey's heavy opening defeat but the flashes Under displayed after coming on as a substitute suggest he could feature from the start against Wales.

He was one of just three Turkey players to have a shot and also played a key pass. Under had scored three goals in his last five games prior to the start of the tournament, including efforts in friendlies with Croatia and Russia. Despite a disappointing season on loan at Leicester City, Under has the ability to make a decisive impact.

Wales – Joe Morrell

In a team blessed with the talents of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, it was Luton Town midfielder Morrell who was the primary creative influence for Wales against Switzerland.

He played three key passes while it was his cross that provided the assist for Moore to equalise and earn a share of the spoils.

A similarly impressive display could be key to helping Wales take a big step towards qualification.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first match between Turkey and Wales at a major tournament. Their last encounter dates back to August 1997 in a World Cup qualifier that produced 10 goals, with Turkey winning 6-4 in Istanbul. Four of Turkey's goals were netted by Hakan Sukur, while current Wales boss Page played for his country that day. 

- Wales last beat Turkey 40 years ago, in March 1981, courtesy of a goal from Carl Harris in a World Cup qualifier in Ankara (0-1). Gunes was in goal that day for the home side.

- Wales have only failed to score in one of their seven matches at the European Championship, doing so in their 2-0 semi-final defeat to Portugal in 2016.

- Turkey had just three shots in their first match against Italy, their fewest ever in a European Championship match, while they failed to attempt a single shot on target for a second time in their last three matches in the tournament.

- Thirty-three per cent of Wales' nine shots in their opening game against Switzerland were taken by Kieffer Moore, while 33 per cent of them were created by Joe Morrell – with the Dragons' leveller being scored by Moore from a Morrell assist.

Turkey head coach Senol Gunes says his side "lost control of the game" after conceding the first goal in Friday's 3-0 loss to Italy in the opening game of Euro 2020.

The Crescent Stars defended well in the first half, playing a counter-attacking style, with the game goalless at the break.

Turkey added a bit more adventure in the second half, opening themselves up when Domenico Berardi's 53rd minute cutback deflected in off Merih Demiral.

Italy took complete control of the game from there, with further strikes from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.

"We started to lose the ball and couldn't get forward. Italy were better – we lost to the better team," Gunes said.

"They were more dominant than us, we lost the ball so many times and this just gave the advantage to our opponent.

"After we conceded the first goal we just really got distracted and lost control of the game."

The heavy defeat leaves Turkey with work to do in Group A, with Wales to play Switzerland on Saturday in the other group game.

Gunes can take comfort knowing that Turkey have lost their opening match at every major tournament they have entered (Euros and World Cup), losing seven out of seven, yet had some success in the past.

"I can say, technically speaking, we played a very strong Italian team," Gunes said. "I’m not very satisfied with the score. I was expecting better football here.

"But even if we lose or win, the competition will continue. We just lost against a host team and we have two more important games against Wales and Switzerland.

"We’ll tidy ourselves up and will start to prepare for those. Italy used the pitch very well, they just kept the ball and physically we fell from the game."

Turkey return to action on Wednesday in Baku against Wales.

Roberto Mancini basked in the emotion of a "beautiful evening" as Italy began Euro 2020 with a commanding 3-0 win over Turkey, but he is not getting carried away after one match.

Against a sorry Turkey side, Italy were a cut above on Friday in Rome's Stadio Olimpico, where the Azzurri are unbeaten in nine matches at major tournaments.

A frustratingly unambitious Turkey were finally breached early in the second half when Domenico Berardi smashed a cross in off Merih Demiral and, as their opponents' cumulative expected goals (xG) value of 0.6 suggests, Italy need not have scored again.

But they did for good measure, Ciro Immobile pouncing on a rebound to net for the third successive game for his country, before then teeing up the excellent Lorenzo Insigne for a lovely finish.

It was the first time in European Championship history that Italy have scored three times in a single match, with the win and overall manner of it seeing Mancini's men make a real statement about their chances over the next month.

It had been difficult to truly gauge their seemingly impressive qualifying campaign because most of their goals came against massively inferior opposition. This victory was rather more conclusive, though Mancini was not getting carried away at full-time.

Asked whether this was just the first step towards the final at Wembley on July 11, Mancini told Rai Sport: "There are still six more steps. It was a beautiful evening, I hope there are many others like this.

"I was hoping for a start like this, we are pleased to have played well and entertained the fans. I hope the Italians had a good evening. We played well, we never gave up. In short it was an excellent match.

"We are aware that we are a good team. We beat Turkey, who are definitely not pushovers. We know we can still improve, even with young players who don't yet have European Championship experience."

The first half was frustrating for Italy, their 14 shots – compared to Turkey's zero – yielding little, while their opponents sat back and hoped to absorb pressure.

Italy would have expected such an approach from Turkey to a degree, given they relied on counter-attacks 26 per cent more than the average in qualifying, according to Stats Perform's Playing Styles model.

But ultimately Italy got the job done and Mancini applauded his men for not becoming disheartened, instead persisting as they looked to pull Turkey to and fro with quick distribution.

"We had a good match, even in the first half when we couldn't find the goal, we were very good," Mancini continued. "The match was not easy, it was the debut and Turkey is an excellent team.

"We were decisive when we moved the ball quickly and came to the opposite side, freeing the man.

"It was important to start well, it was a satisfaction for all of us, for the present public and for all Italians."

Ciro Immobile thanked his mother for giving him his sense of goal after helping Italy to launch their Euro 2020 campaign with a resounding 3-0 win over Turkey in Rome.

A dogged, if unambitious, approach from Senol Gunes' side ensured it was 0-0 at the interval at the Stadio Olimpico, but the breakthrough came eight minutes into the second half when Merih Demiral turned Domenico Berardi's powerful cross into his own net.

Lazio striker Immobile was then on hand to convert the rebound from Leonardo Spinazzola's shot – his third consecutive scoring appearance for the Azzurri but a first goal in the finals of a major tournament.

"I want to thank my mother for giving me the sense for being in the right place in the right moment," the 31-year-old said, as quoted by UEFA.com.

Roberto Mancini's side had 63.4 per cent possession and the eventual shot count came in at 24-3, with Immobile's six attempts meaning he had double the amount the entire Turkey team managed over the course of the 90 minutes.

Immobile felt being under pressure for such long periods took a toll on Italy's opponents.

"We showed patience in the first half. Turkey are a strong side and caused problems for many top teams," he said.

"We tried to tire them out, moving the ball left and right and trying to spread them. Unfortunately, we regularly struggled to break their wall.

"Turkey were more tired after the break. After the goal they had to open up some space, so that’s when our quality emerged."

Lorenzo Insigne completed the scoring with a crisp finish – teed up by Immobile – and produced many of those moments of quality.

The Napoli forward had five shots, with two on target and two blocked, and created three chances for team-mates. Only fellow wide attacker Domenico Berardi (five) made more key passes.

"We made a slow start but we managed to recover and score three goals in the second half," Insigne said.

"Mancini told us to remain calm and focused on the game – that’s what we did and, finally, we achieved our goal.

"Our strength is the group; the coach has created a great group in which there are no starters and bench players and each one of us is always ready to sacrifice for our team-mates.

"Winning is the most important thing – if I score, even better. It was a great night."

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