Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro 2008 Semi-final: Germany 3-2 Turkey

I don't know what it is, but this tournament keeps throwing up dramatic results. Once again Turkey were involved in a game featuring a stunning late victory -- although this time they were on the wrong end of the scoreline. It's just too bad we couldn't see the whole thing, thanks to the broadcasting problems from Vienna.

Turkey were massive underdogs coming into this game, seeing as they had so many players either injured or suspended -- or both -- whereas Germany were able to field the same lineup that had disposed of Portugal so emphatically. But, maybe because their backs were against the wall, Turkey produced an excellent performance, with Germany struggling to match them. Both teams were playing five men across midfield, but Germany were giving up possession too easily, while Turkey were spreading the play well and threatening on both wings.

And the first goal came from one their two wingers, Colin "Kazim Kazim" Kazim-Richards smashing a shot off the crossbar in the 23rd minute, for Ugur Boral to put the rebound in through Jens Lehmann's legs. Turkey were dominating the play, but they couldn't hold their lead for very long. Germany equalized three minutes later with virtually their first chance of the game, Lukas Podolski breaking down the left and crossing to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who flicked the ball across the keeper and into the net.

That was probably Germany's best move of the game, too; despite losing their one-goal advantage, Turkey were still the better team as the match went on. ...As far as I could tell, that is, because the feed went out for long stretches of the second half, apparently because of lightning hitting the broadcast centre in Austria.

Turkey must have been hoping that lightning would strike again for them, but instead it was Germany who took the lead in the 78th minute. Miroslav Klose scored with a header into an empty net after Rustu Recber (sporting a fetching double ponytail in a valiant attempt to win the Bad Hair Award two games running) came out to punch Philipp Lahm's cross and got nowhere near the ball.

But Turkey have been the comeback kings throughout the tournament, and they tied this game up again in the 85th minute. Sabri Sarioglu beat Lahm -- having a rare bad game defensively -- on the left and squared the ball to the near post, where Semih Senturk was able to beat his marker and flick it in past Lehmann. I think Lehmann was partially at fault on Turkey's first goal, and I really don't know what he was doing here -- crouched down, basically waiting for the ball to come to him, as if there wasn't a striker charging at his net.

Lahm redeemed himself, though, with what was ultimately the winning goal just four minutes later. He picked up the ball near midfield, exchanged passes with Thomas Hitzlsperger and burst into the box -- helped by the fact that his marker, Kazim, had gone down injured at the beginning of the move -- where he finished sweetly with a great strike that sent the keeper the wrong way. Turkey still had three minutes of stoppage time to attempt another improbably comeback, but this time Germany were able to hold on to their lead and run the clock down.

It was an excellent performance by Turkey -- in terms of both the quality of their play and the grit they showed -- but Germany have an equally effective never-say-die attitude, and they'll be the team in the finals. They'll have to do better than this, though, if they want to win it all. Maybe Michael Ballack needs to crack some heads together in the dressing room.

1 comment:

Fekall said...

Great about the failure of Russia...GARRRR