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Saturday, September 4, 1999 Published at 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK

Sport: Football

Turks end Northern Ireland hopes

Getting shirty: Mark Williams battles with Turkey's Hakan Sukur

Northern Ireland 0-3 Turkey

Northern Ireland conceded three goals in four disastrous minutes either side of half-time as Turkey extinguished any hope of a Euro 2000 play-off place for Lawrie McMenemy's men.

The home side had dominated for most of the first half in Belfast but were punished severely for losing concentration.

This latest defeat could spell the end for McMenemy, whose contract expires at the end of the qualifying campaign.

His team are second bottom of Group 3 with six points from seven games and only trips to Germany and Finland to come. Turkey are top - assured of at least a play-off.

[ image: Turkish fans express thanks]
Turkish fans express thanks
There was a minute's silence before the game in memory of the tens of thousands killed in Turkey's earthquake. Their supporters in the Windsor Park crowd displayed a banner thanking the world for its help.

On the field, their hero was Galatasaray's Arif Erdern who completed a fine hat-trick after chasing a long ball with defenders appealing for off-side.

"It is the same old story," said Northern Ireland's Neil Lennon. "You can't give away goals like that at international level."

The scoreline was a repeat of Turkey's victory over Northern Ireland 12 months ago in Istanbul.

Northern Ireland held their own for the first 45 minutes on Saturday before they lowered their guard and were punished.

Michael Hughes fired a 35-yard free-kick just wide, Peter Kennedy mishit two good scoring chances and Iain Dowie was also wasteful.

[ image:  ]
As the interval loomed, the home side relaxed and Arif ran onto a defence-splitting pass and slotted the ball past Taylor.

If that left Northern Ireland reeling they were knocked flat within 60 seconds of the restart.

A mix-up between Aaron Hughes and Steve Lomas gifted the Turks possession and Yalcin quickly fed Hakan.

He in turn played in Arif who scored an almost carbon-copy of his first goal.

Arif wasn't finished and in the 49th minute he completed one a lightning hat-trick, casually chipping Taylor.

The home side kept up the fight and Hughes curled a free-kick narrowly wide from 25 yards.

But there was no avoiding Northern Ireland's 100th home defeat, this one watched by just 7,270 fans - nearly 3,000 fewer than the gate for Glentoran's Belfast derby with Linfield on Tuesday.

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