Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Germany Wins over Turquey! 3-2

Lahm has final word in thriller

A 90th-minute strike from Philipp Lahm sent Germany into the UEFA EURO 2008™ final and ended the march of a brave Turkey side who were unable to summon one last dramatic equaliser.

Gripping contestSemih Şentürk had already brought Turkey to the brink of extra time with an 86th-minute finish from close range, yet Lahm's super finish from Thomas Hitzlsperger's pass finally flattened Fatih Terim's team. For once, they had led, through Uğur Boral's 22nd-minute opener, only for goals either side of half-time from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose to wrest the initiative in an exciting semi-final in Basel.

Blistering startMetzelder's early slice from Uğur's cross set the tone. Kazım Kazım broke confidently before Lahm's sloppiness allowed his FC Bayern München team-mate Hamit Altıntop – one of two German-born Turkey starters along with Hakan Balta – a half-chance he scuffed at Jens Lehmann. Terim's team were playing as if they had nothing to lose. From Ayhan Akman's cutback, Kazım smashed against the crossbar. Semih nearly turned in a cross, then a telescopic leg from Per Mertesacker denied Ayhan.

Uğur openerAfter 17 minutes Germany woke up. Michael Ballack passed to Lahm, met the resulting cross with his head and sparked confusion in the opposition area. The Turkish thoroughbred had already bolted, though, and the first goal went their way after 22 minutes.

Sabri Sarıoğlu threw the ball to Ayhan who chested it back, and from Sabri's cross Kazım's imperfect strike looped on to the crossbar – happily for the Crescent Stars an even untidier finish from Uğur burrowed under Lehmann's body.

Schweinsteiger reply: Semih and Mehmet Aurélio might have doubled the advantage, only for the Germany to equalise against the run of play four minutes later. Lukas Podolski, the left prong in the trident behind Miroslav Klose, delivered the centre which Bastian Schweinsteiger turned in from close range. A Klose call at Turkey's end was then followed by Lehmann having to tip over a Hamit free-kick. In return, Hamit's mistake almost undid a vibrant Turkey when his misplaced pass resulted in Podolski sprinting through but rifling over. Uğur's free-kick, won by the willing run of Kazım, elicited another Lehmann save.

Key absentees: This was a tough contest for Joachim Löw's team, make no mistake. The forward runs of Kazım, Hamit, Ayhan and Uğur in support of Semih were causing no end of trouble. If green in places because of an absentee list including four injured, four suspended and one half-fit substitute, Turkey were also fresh, energetic and enthusiastic. Germany began to show the same qualities; Hitzlsperger found his range; Ballack did not after winning a free-kick.

The Mannschaft had dominated both games when these sides met at the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland but you would not have guessed that it was they, not Turkey, who were chasing a sixth final appearance and a fourth European title.

Thrilling finishFull-back Sabri's right-wing surge went unrewarded, then Uğur warmed Lehmann's hands as Turkey continued to get their quota of attacks through clever use of the flanks. However, it was a long cross from a deeper position, delivered by Lahm, which looked to have decided the match, goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber failing to reach a ball that Klose headed into the unguarded net with eleven minutes to play. Turkey had redefined the term plucky underdog with last-gasp goals against Switzerland, Czech Republic and Turkey and came again. Sabri was the source, his cross being turned in at the near post by Semih. Extra time loomed, but that was discounting the one-two between Hitzlsperger and Lahm that provided the knockout punch.

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