Italy beats Turkey post World Cup qualifying agony; Croatia defeats Bulgaria

Italy won 3-2 in an entertaining friendly away to Turkey on Tuesday after Giacomo Raspadori struck twice although that was scant consolation for its agonising failure to qualify for the World Cup

Italy's Giacomo Raspadori, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the international friendly against Turkey at the Torku arena in Konya on Tuesday.   -  AP

Italy won 3-2 in an entertaining friendly away to Turkey on Tuesday after Giacomo Raspadori struck twice although that was scant consolation for its agonising failure to qualify for the World Cup and added to Turkey's misery after it missed out.

Both countries were eliminated from contention for the tournament in Qatar after suffering defeats in their playoff semi-finals last week which, had they won, would have pitted them against each other for a World Cup berth.

European champions Italy suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat by North Macedonia while Turkey squandered a late penalty as it lost 3-1 away to Portugal.

On Tuesday, Cengiz Under put Turkey ahead in the fourth minute with a low strike between goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma's legs. But Italy struck back with two quick goals in the closing minutes of the first half to lead.

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Bryan Cristante levelled with a powerful header from a free kick in the 35th minute before a mistake from Turkey keeper Altay Bayindir left him face-to-face with Raspadori, who put the Italian side ahead in the 39th.

Italy extended their lead with a second goal by Raspadori in the 69th minute before Turkey's Serdar Dursun raised hopes of a late comeback in the 83rd but the hosts were unable to capitalise on a flurry of late chances.

Turkey last qualified for the World Cup in 2002 when they finished in third place behind champions Brazil and runners-up Germany. Italy did not qualify for the World Cup four years ago, their first failure to reach the global tournament since 1958.

Croatia vs Bulgaria

Croatia fought back from a goal down to beat Bulgaria 2-1 in a friendly at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Tuesday thanks to late goals from Luka Modric and Andrej Kramaric.

After a goalless first half, Croatia went down to 10 men when defender Duje Caleta-Car was sent off in the 63rd minute.

Bulgaria's Kiril Despodov earned his side the lead shortly after, capping a quick break by firing past Ivica Ivusic into the bottom right corner.

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However, Despodov went from hero to zero in a matter of seconds, picking up a second yellow card for ripping his shirt off while imitating Cristiano Ronaldo's trademark celebration, erasing Bulgaria's one-man advantage.

Croatia responded well to going behind, scoring in the 76th and 80th minutes to secure the victory.

Kramaric was involved in both goals, winning a penalty that was converted by Modric, before creating space for himself in the Bulgarian box with some intricate footwork and firing home the winner.

Croatia, runner-up at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, has secured an automatic berth at this year's finals, while Bulgaria finished fourth in its group and failed to qualify for the tournament in Qatar.

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