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THE TURK­ISH na­tional foot­ball team will play its third UEFA Na­tions League group match in an away match against Rus­sia in Sochi on Sun­day. In the pre­vi­ous matches, Rus­sia beat Turkey 2-1 on Sept. 7 at home in the League B, Group 2 match. How­ever, Turkey its way clawed back from a two-goal deficit to de­feat Swe­den 3-2 on Sept. 9 at Swe­den’s Friends Arena. Now, Turk­ish play­ers look to keep this win­ning run against Rus­sia and to get an ad­van­tage in the group stand­ings. On Thurs­day, Turkey drew 0-0 against Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina in a friendly match at home in the Black Sea prov­ince of Rize.

In the only game of the Thurs­day night in the sec­ond-tier League B, Rus­sia drew 0-0 with Swe­den in Kalin­ingrad. Rus­sia, un­beaten against the Swedes since 1994, stayed ahead in Group 2 with four points, one more than Turkey and three ahead of Swe­den. All the teams have played two matches. The group win­ner will move up to Group A, while the team at the bot­tom of the group will move down to Group C.

Else­where, Euro­pean cham­pion Por­tu­gal sparkled on Thurs­day de­spite the ab­sence of its star for­ward Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, de­feat­ing Poland to move a step closer to the last four of the UEFA Na­tions League. Por­tu­gal now has six points from two games, five points ahead of Poland and Italy. Only the group win­ner ad­vances to June’s last four. A draw be­tween Poland and Italy in Chor­zow on Sun­day will guar­an­tee Por­tu­gal as the group win­ner. Por­tu­gal plays a friendly in Scot­land the same day. It was Por­tu­gal’s third straight game with­out Ron­aldo, who hasn’t played an in­ter­na­tional since his trans­fer from Real Madrid to Ju­ven­tus in the sum­mer.

Is­rael’s 2-1 home win against Scot­land left all three teams in Group 1 of the thirdtier League C tied on three points af­ter two matches. Scot­land is ahead on goal dif­fer­ence, fol­lowed by Is­rael and Al­ba­nia. Is­rael hosts Al­ba­nia on Sun­day. In Group 4, Ser­bia stayed ahead with a 2-0 win in Mon­tene­gro, while Ro­ma­nia re­mained sec­ond with a 2-1 vic­tory in Lithua­nia. In Group 3 of League D, Kosovo is top af­ter a 3-1 home win against Malta, while Azer­bai­jan jumped to sec­ond with a 3-0 vic­tory in the Faroe Is­lands.

The UEFA Na­tions League is a new na­tional team com­pe­ti­tion that re­places friendlies with com­pet­i­tive matches, al­low­ing na­tions to play against equally ranked teams.

The 55 as­so­ci­a­tions were split into four leagues ac­cord­ing to their rank­ings. The group win­ners in Leagues B, C, and D gain pro­mo­tion, and teams that fin­ish at the bot­tom of their groups in Leagues A, B, and C are rel­e­gated.

Şener Özbayraklı (L) tries to drib­ble past Rus­sia’s Fe­dor Kudryashov, right, dur­ing the UEFA Na­tions League match be­tween Turkey and Rus­sia in Trab­zon, Sept. 7.

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