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Turkey roars, hangs four on Netherlands to open World Cup qualifying


Turkey’s forward Burak Yilmaz (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring his second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group G football match between Turkey and The Netherlands at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, in Istanbul, on March 24, 2021. (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

UEFA World Cup qualifying got off to a rip-roaring start, and Frank De Boer’s tenure as Netherlands manager is back under fire.

Turkey, far from an underdog at 32nd in the FIFA rankings, still surprised with the scoreline when it clinically took apart the 14th-rated Netherlands 4-2 to start Group G play.

While there are three super underdogs in the group, it also holds Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard, and Norway. With one nation qualifying directly for Qatar and a second going to the playoffs, there will be some big stars missing out on the World Cup.

[ MORE: World Cup qualifying hub ]

The Dutch out-attempted 20-8 and put nine on target but Ugurcan Cakir made seven saves and Turkey barely missed an opportunity to score in building a three-goal lead.

Thirty-five year old Burak Yilmaz of Lille started his first international hat trick on an assist from AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu, who would later score Turkey’s third goal off a feed from Umut Meras.

It was 3-0 before Davy Klaassen and Luuk de Jong put the Dutch’s feet underneath them, but Yilmaz finished his hat trick in style with this 81st-minute goal as

The Turkish spine is impressive from Cakir through center backs Caglar Soyuncu and Ozan Kabak and defensive midfielder Okay Yokuslu.

The Netherlands will get their wits about them when Latvia visits for Matchday 2, while coach Senol Gunes’ Turkey can take hold of the group with an away defeat of Norway on Saturday.

De Boer drew his first three matches in charge of the team but the opponents were anything but easy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, and Spain before beating BNH and Poland.

Follow @NicholasMendola