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Merih Demiral of Turkiye celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 round of 16 match between Austria and Turkiye at Football Stadium Leipzig on July 02, 2024 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)


Better late than never young Turks complete Euro quarter-finals line-up

At last, a chance for European football to catch its breath, a three-day chasm between Turkey’s dismissal of Austria in the Round of 16 finale and a clash of giants between hosts Germany and favourites Spain in the opening quarter-final.

Friday will see Stuttgart as the venue three hours before Portugal face France in Hamburg hoping to repeat their surprise triumph in the 2016 final. One day later, on Saturday, stuttering England play Switzerland in Dusseldorf before Netherlands take on the delirious young Turks in Berlin.

Five former European champions remain in pursuit of ultimate succession to homeward-bound Italy: Germany, Spain, Portugal, France and Netherlands.

The Dutch progressed after substitute Donyell Malen scored twice and Cody Gakpo made one after grabbing his third goal of the finals to see off a lively Romania and reach the quarter-finals for the first time in 16 years.

Liverpool forward Gakpo opened the scoring with a decisive finish midway through the first half to threaten the end to Romania’s first appearance in the knockout stage for 24 years. Netherlands missed a string of second-half openings before Gakpo set up a second goal for Malen. The substitute wrapped up the scoring after a late solo breakaway.

An opportunist first-minute goal and a magnificent last-minute save fired Turkey into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2008 with a 2-1 defeat of Austria in Leipzig. This was only the Austrians’ third defeat under the management of Ralf Rangnick and was a painful reversal after their 6-1 defeat of Turkey in a friendly in March.

The young Turks, second-youngest squad at the finals, set up an end-to-end thriller when they opened the scoring after 57 seconds. Arda Guler’s corner was fumbled between two defenders and goalkeeper Patrick Pentz and Turkey defender Merih Demiral pounced to score from close range.

Just before the hour the same partnership struck again with another right-wing corner from Guler being glance-headed home by Demiral.

Austria, who had not managed a shot on target in the first half, dominated possession in the second half but pulled only one goal back when Stefan Posch flicked on Marcel Sabitzer’s corner for substitute Gregoritsch to score. The Austrians thought they had an equaliser in the last minute of stoppage time only to see goalkeeper Mert Günok leap right for the save of his life from Christoph Baumgartner.

Hence the last eight will see Turkey face Netherlands – who beat them 6-1 the last time they met in 2021.

Credit: AIPS Media 

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