Euro 2024: Demiral double powers Turkey past Austria into quarter-finals

Turkey’s Merih Demiral struck in each half and their keeper Mert Gunok pulled off a superb stoppage-time save as they secured a high-octane 2-1 victory over Austria to book their spot in Euro 2024’s last eight.

The central defender, who was named man-of-the-match, scored after 57 seconds and then added another with a powerful header just before the hour mark to set up a quarter-final in Berlin against the Netherlands, who beat Romania 3-0 earlier.

Austria cut the deficit through Michael Gregoritsch midway through the second half and were denied in the final seconds when Christoph Baumgartner’s header was kept out by a stunning one-handed save from Gunok.

Celebrations broke out across many cities in Germany on the final whistle, as thousands of Turks took to the streets, honking car horns, waving flags and chanting, with their national team eyeing a repeat of their Euro 2008 semi-final run.

“I would like to first say this. How happy is the one who says I am a Turk,” said Demiral. “This was a very important game, the whole team played great. I am very happy and very proud. The whole team played a great game.”

For tournament dark horses Austria, it was a bitter end to their European Championship with the team still waiting for their first win in a knockout match at any major tournament since 1954.

The Turks snatched the lead in a frantic start to the game when Demiral pounced on a goalmouth scramble following a corner to fire into the roof of the net for the fastest ever goal in a European Championship knockout match.

Turkey were happy to leave possession to Austria, who beat them 6-1 back in March, but kept pressing high with a 5-4-1 system, and looked to catch them on the break, disrupting their opponents’ usual no-frills playing style.

Despite missing suspended captain Hakan Calhanoglou, the hard-charging Turks kept Austria at bay, with Ralf Rangnick’s side having no efforts on target in the first half.

The Austrians came out fighting after the break, picking up the pace and pushing Turkey back and should have levelled six minutes after the restart when captain Marko Arnautovic was sent through with only the keeper to beat but his shot was blocked by Gunok.

Instead it was the Turks who struck again with Demiral beating two players in the air to head home from yet another corner to earn a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute.

Amid pouring rain, Austria pulled a goal back when substitute Gregoritsch finished at the far post in the 66th and they had a total 20 attempts on goal as they kept pushing forward in search of an equaliser.

Baumgartner would have thought he had got it with his stoppage-time header but Gunok pulled off the save of the match, palming it wide to protect their slim lead.

“The team tried everything, we scored, had chances to score but it’s difficult if you have Gordon Banks in goal,” said Rangnick, recalling the former England keeper’s stunning stop to deny Brazil’s Pele at the 1970 World Cup.


According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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