Turkey edges Austria to set up quarter-final with Dutch

July 4: Turkey will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 after winning a thriller with Austria 2-1 as both countries reached the last eight of a European Championship for the first time since 2008.

Merih Demiral was the unlikely hero for Turkey, in soaking Leipzig, after bundling his team ahead with less than a minute on the clock and then thumping in the decisive header just before the hour mark.

Vincenzo Montella’s side, who were missing suspended captain Hakan Calhanoglu but once again backed by massive support at the Zentralstadion, will take on the Dutch in Berlin on Saturday after their comfortable 3-0 win over Romania earlier on Tuesday.

Turkey were beaten 6-1 by Austria in March and Montella admitted he was hoping to get his own back for that embarrassing defeat.

“I denied it yesterday but today I can admit that Austria was the team I wanted so that I could get rid of that stain that as a coach I had on me,” said Montella.

Turkey will again be able to count on their raucous fans in the German capital as they aim to replicate their run to the last four from 16 years ago.

That tournament was co-hosted by Austria, who played a full part in an engrossing match and on another day may have run out winners.

Ralf Rangnick’s side were on top for most of the match and in particular in the second half, when they pinned Turkey back and conceded the second goal completely against the run of play.

Al-Ahli centre-back Demiral became the first European defender to score twice in the knockout stages of a major tournament since Lilian Thuram for France at the 1998 World Cup.

Michael Gregoritsch halved the deficit by forcing home Stefan Posch’s flick on at another corner shortly after Demiral took his international goal tally to four in 48 caps. But Austria couldn’t capitalise on their dominance and went out after Christoph Baumgartner was denied a leveller in the final seconds of added time by an incredible Mert Gunok save.

Dutch ease through

Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malen, with a brace in the second half, eased the Dutch through to the last eight.

Ronald Koeman’s side were heavily criticised after the 3-2 defeat to Austria which led the Oranje to finish third in Group D.

But they were impressive on Tuesday, creating a hatful of chances and running out deserved winners in at the Allianz Arena.

“We showed a good reaction from the last match and I’m very pleased… We took a step in the right direction today,” said Liverpool forward Gakpo.

“It’s all about aggression and intensity and defending like a team and I think it was a good step and an important one.”

Gakpo was the Netherlands’ most impressive performer and put his team ahead in the 20th minute when his rasping shot caught goalkeeper Florin Nita off-guard at his near post.

Chances came and went as Romania failed to get hold of their opponents and after having what would have been his second ruled out for offside he took matters into his own hands with seven minutes remaining.

Gakpo’s mazy dribble through a crowded penalty area led to him finding Malen who tapped home and then added the third in stoppage time to make the scoreline more representative of the balance of play. “The only critical point was that it took us too long to score the second one,” said Koeman.

Whoever wins between the Netherlands and Turkey will play one of England and Switzerland a week on Wednesday. (AFP)

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