AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands scored in stoppage time through a deflected Wesley Sneijder shot to secure a 1-1 draw with Turkey on Saturday and avoid their first ever home defeat in European Championship qualifying.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got a slight deflection to a long-range strike from captain Sneijder in the 92nd minute to rescue a point for the Dutch, who looked to be heading to their third defeat in five matches in Group A.
Burak Yilmaz scored in the 37th minute at the Amsterdam Arena, given time in the penalty area to fire off a shot that took a deflection off Bruno Martins Indi to put the Turks ahead at halftime.
The Netherlands stayed third in the standings with seven points from five games. Turkey have five points at the halfway point of the qualifying campaign.
The home team had several chances in the first half with captain Sneijder, deputising for the injured Robin van Persie, going closest but their best came after the break when substitute Luciano Narsingh missed an open goal.
Sneijder shot narrowly wide with a free kick and full back Jetro Willems went close with a rasping shot 10 minutes from time.
The introduction of tall forward Bas Dost forced the Dutch to throw everything forward in a final assault and the equaliser came when Sneijder’s shot struck Huntelaar on the back of the head and deflected into goal.
“From the first minute we went for victory,” Sneijder told Dutch television.
“Turkey had one chance in front of goal. We dominated and made chances but we took until injury time to get the equaliser. We did not impose ourselves enough in the first half but we were more attacking in the second and something had to fall for us in the end.”
Avoiding defeat will not lift the pressure on coach Guus Hiddink, who received a public vote of confidence from the Dutch football association after defeat in Iceland in October.
Dutch fortunes have fallen dramatically since finishing third at the World Cup in Brazil last year under coach Louis van Gaal.
His successor, given a two-year contract until next year’s European Championship in France, has been under increasing pressure after the team lost two of their opening three qualifiers.
A 6-0 home win over Latvia in November gave Hiddink breathing space but he will face more questions after narrowly avoiding defeat.