Germany 3-2 Turkey. Fatih Terim and his Turkish team are out of Europe: the comeback kings just ran out of miracles on Wednesday night, in a match during which, ironically and all things considered, they were the better team on the field.
In the days preceding the match, everyone thought Germany would have a very easy Semi-final against a Turkish side decimated by suspension and injury, but the tournament favorites (according to outright bookie odds) seemed lazy, unprepared, and a shadow of their former selves, aka the convincing & effective team which beat Portugal in the Quarter-finals. It wasn’t perhaps too surprising therefore, based on the initial 15 minutes, to see Turkey actually take the lead in this game (if only for a few minutes).
Yet, that must have brought them some bad luck because ever since their second group stage game, Turkey had built their team’s momentum on come-from-behind victories, and on Wednesday night, the tables were turned as Germany earned their ticket to the Euro 2008 final thanks to a 90th minute Philipp Lahm scorcher.
(From Gazzetta): BASEL (Switzerland), 25 June 2008 – Germany have booked their place in the final of Euro 2008 and are well in line to claim their fourth European crown of their illustrious history. The favourites to reach the final before the games even started have certainly lived up to expectations, but the manner with which they have achieved their feat has not exactly been straightforward. Indeed Terim’s Turkey, 3-2 losers on the night, dominated the first half and were only beaten by a 90th minute Lahm masterstroke. A taste of their own medicine perhaps for a Turkey side that on the way to the semi-finals of these championship beat a host of sides – namely Switzerland, Czech Republic and Croatia – thanks to last minute comebacks.
Germany, who knocked out the Turks by the same score line with which they had dispatched the Portuguese in the quarter-finals, now await the winner from the other semi-final – to be played between Russia and Spain – for the final meeting on Sunday. Germany cannot perhaps boast the most talented players in Europe in their squad, but they are certainly the ones that commit the least amount of errors. They also know how to withstand pressure without succumbing to it, and have a knack for winning thanks in no small part to their resolute character.
ON FIRE TURKEY – Turkey started the game extremely brightly in spite of their numerous absentees through suspension and injury. Terim really managed to instil the belief in his players that an upset was more than plausible, but were perhaps the only ones to believe so (the bookies especially, made Germany odds on favourite to claim the victory). However, what should have been an apparent formality for Joachim Löw’s men turned out instead to be a really difficult game, with the Germans themselves also contributing to their own downfall.
Indeed an error from Lahm gave Hamit Altintop (who plays his club football for Bayern) the first real chance to give Turkey the lead, which Jens Lehmann did well to save. Turkey continued to apply pressure, as Kazim Kazim (or Colin Kazim-Richards, whichever you prefer) also saw his close range effort hit the bar and Semih Sentürk put a low shot just wide of the front post.
Then on 22 minutes Turkey finally claimed their richly deserved opening goal, Ugur Boral scoring from short range after Kazim had just hit the bar for a second time. It was Boral’s first goal for his nation and what a moment to score it as, in conceding the goal, Lehmann showed all the uncertainty of his age. 1-0 Turkey.
UNYELDING GERMANS – Germany really looked to be struggling at this point, but they soaked up the Turkish pressure without succumbing to it and eventually re-emerged from the storm, as Bastian Schweinsteiger put Germany back on level terms with the Nationalmannschaft’s first shot on net. And a beautiful goal it was too, as Schweinsteiger stole in front of everyone to deftly touch home Lukas Podolski’s cross from the left with the outside of his right boot. 1-1.
The goal was a lifeline out of nowhere for Löw’s men and they immediately grabbed it with both hands, but Germany yet continued to struggle against an animated Turkish side, who was repeatedly breaching the German defence with the greatest of ease, and peppered Lehmann’s goal with shots from all sides. The Germans however were really dangerous on the counter and Podolski, so far impeccable in this European championship, someone managed to put the ball over the bar with only Rustu to beat.
The half thus ended with the scores even, both sides contributing to a pleasant and high tempo contest with many chances, even if these were more the result of errors than good build up play. Turkey for their part certainly deserved more.
A GOAL A PIECE – The second half began at a more measured pace with the game now a more balanced affair. A couple of dubious episodes followed as Lahm was first fouled close to the Turkish box - only for Swiss referee Massimo Busacca to wave away the German appeals – before Lahm himself appeared to hold back Kazim on the other side of the pitch. Then came the goals, as Germany took the lead for the first time when Miroslav Klose headed in Lahm’s cross from the left (Turkey talisman keeper Rüştü Reçber was the guilty party here, for failing to claim the ball after rushing off his line), before Semih Sentürk levelled the scoring for a second time as he slotted home Sabri’s cross from the right (Lehmann the obvious culprit this time, beaten on his front post). 2-1 Germany and 2-2 in quick succession.
DECISIVE LAHM – Just as extra time seemed inevitable, Germany scored a last gasp winner in the 90th minute to decide the contest. And it was all Philipp Lahm‘s doing as the Bayern Munich player first skipped past a man, exchanged a one-two with Hitzlsperger, before racing in the area and showing remarkable composure to fire the ball past Rustu in the near top corner. It was the goal to send Germany to the final of Euro 2008. 3-1 Germany the final score, bravo Deutschland!
|GOALSCORERS: 22’ Boral (T), 26’ Schweinsteiger (G), 80’ Klose (G), 86’ Sentürk (T), 90’ Lahm (G)|
|GERMANY (4-2-3-1): Lehmann – Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm – Rolfes (46’ Frings), Hitzlsperger – Schweinsteiger, Ballack, Podolski – Klose (92′ Jansen). (bench: Enke, Adler, Fritz, Westermann, Gomez, Neuville, Trochowski, Borowski, Odonkor, Kuranyi). Coach: Low.|
|TURKEY (4-1-4-1): Rüştü – Sabri, Gökhan Zan, Topal, Hakan – Mehmet Aurelio – Kazim (92’ Tumer), Altintop, Akman (81’ Erdinc), Boral (84’ Gökdeniz) – Sentürk. (bench: Tolga, Servet, Emre Belözoglu, Metin, Emre Güngör). Coach: Terim.|