Turks' comeback the latest in great footballing escapes

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Turks comeback the latest in great footballing escapes
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Haziran 16, 2008 00:32

Turkey staged one of the greatest comebacks in a major tournament, scoring three times in the last 15 minutes to beat Czech Republic 3-2 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2008. (UPDATED)

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Turkey's great escape on Sunday to overturn a two-goal deficit and reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 at the expense of the Czech Republic marked one of the most dramatic denouements the competition has known, the AFP reported.               

The Turks were doubly fortunate when they managed to avoid a penalty shootout after goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was sent off at the death, forcing Tuncay Sanli to see out the match in goal.

The turnaround was quite unlike anything else seen to date at this year's event, which has nonetheless not been short on drama, with Holland flooring world champions Italy 3-0 and France 4-1 and Croatia beating Germany.  

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But the Turkish late show produced a finale scarcely less thrilling than the actual trophy match eight years ago, when France edged out Italy 2-1 having been a goal behind with a minute remaining of normal time. 

Sylvain Wiltord leveled to force extra-time and David Trezeguet scored the golden goal winner.

The French were at it again four years ago in Portugal when they scored twice in injury-time in the group phase to down England 2-1.

France also suffered the reverse scenario at the 1982 World Cup when they led the then West Germany 3-1 in extra-time but contrived to draw 3-3 and then lose their semi-final on penalties.

At Euro 2000, Spain came back from 3-2 down to edge Yugoslavia by the odd goal in seven deep into injury-time.

At club level, there have been the two heart-stopping comebacks in recent Champions League finals.

In 1999, Manchester United came back from a goal behind after 89 minutes to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Barcelona with Teddy Sheringham equalizing and Ole Solskjaer pouncing for the winner.

And there was a Turkish connection when Liverpool stunned AC Milan in recovering from 3-0 down at the break to lift the trophy on penalties in Istanbul in 2005.

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The Turks comeback on Sunday drew a much larger global audience than the match between Portugal’s and Cameroon’s Under-17 teams who met in an Under-17 World Championship group match in 2003 - but the African recovery that day was even more astounding.

Cameroon trailed 5-0 with 21 minutes to go, but the young Indomitable Lions roared back to draw 5-5, aided by an own-goal and a 94th-minute equalizer.

STUBBORN TURKS

Three goals in the last fifteen minutes gave Turkey a remarkable 3-2 comeback victory over Czech Republic in a winner-take-all Euro 2008 thriller on Sunday, earning a quarter-final meeting with Croatia.

The Turks had looked dead and buried on 62 minutes after a first-half header from giant Czech striker Jan Koller and a second-half strike by winger Jaroslav Plasil looked to have made the result safe for the Euro 2004 semi-finalists.      

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However the red-whites refused to cede to an early knock-out from Euro 2008 as Arda Turan pulled one back 15 minutes from time and Turkey equalized with three minutes to go when keeper Petr Cech inexplicably dropped the ball for the captain Nihat Kahveci to slide the ball into an empty net.     

Turkey then grabbed a dramatic winner two minutes later when Nihat broke clear to fire a right-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area that went in off the underside of the bar. 

There was intense drama in the dying stages when Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was shown a red card, but Turkey was not to be denied the opportunity to leave the Czechs heart-broken.

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Midfielder Sanli went in goal for the closing stages but Turkey held on to seal a meeting with Croatia in the last eight in Vienna on Friday.

A penalty shoot-out had been a pre-match option as both teams had come to Stade de Geneve with identical Group A records from their two previous games. But in the end Turkey joined Portugal in the quarter-finals, while the Czechs pack their bags.   

Turkey ended with six points in Group A, three ahead of the Czechs, who were eliminated along with co-hosts Switzerland. Portugal, who fielded a reserve side against the Swiss, finished top despite a 2-0 defeat in Basel on Sunday. 

COACHES

Turkish coach Fatih Terim opted to play the Turkcell Super League's top scorer Semih Senturk alongside hero Kahveci up front in a traditional 4-4-2 formation unlike the 4-3-3 he used against the Swiss.

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"I congratulate my team for their great performance," said Terim. "It rained once again and we had to sweat once again."

"I send my love and greetings home to Turkey. Go out and celebrate, go out on the streets and savor this feeling. My players are going to celebrate now too. They deserve it. I said we'll be remembered for this," said an elated Terim

Czech coach Karel Brueckner looked every one of his 68 years when he sat in stunned disbelief in front of reporters after his last match in charge before retiring, Reuters reported.

"To lose such a game is incredible, even with four minutes to go we were winning 2-1," he said. "To concede two goals in the last three minutes is unbelievable.

"You cannot make mistakes like that and expect to win games. We made mistakes for the second and third goals and did not defend well," the Czech coach admitted.

"You can't play like that. In the end we surrendered to Turkey's pressure."

Turkey's comeback from 2-0 down to beat Czech Republic 3-2 will give Bruckner long and sleepless nights he admitted, the AFP reported.

"This defeat is going to take me long nights to get over," admitted Bruckner, who nevertheless has taken the Czechs to three successive major finals in his seven year tenure with the height the Euro 2004 semi-finals, it added.

TO THE END

Turkey coach Fatih Terim, heavily criticized after their opening 2-0 defeat by Portugal for his squad selection, replied to the criticism at a news conference on Monday.

"We showed the whole world what kind of a team we are.

"I'm proud that I have players who know that the match ends with the referee's whistle," Terim said.

The Turkish coach said he wants his side to beat Croatia in Friday's Euro 2008 quarter-final in Vienna and then go all the way to the final in the Austrian capital on June 29.

Terim said his team's stunning late comeback against the Czechs was testament to their ability to fight until the end.

"Croatia are a good side, they beat Germany, but we are a good team too and we will get better as each day passes," said Terim, whose side also stunned Switzerland last week 2-1 when they scored the winning goal in extra time.

"There are players that I admire in the Croatian team, but players I fear," he said.

He declined to comment on the prospects of his transfer to a European club team, saying he is only concentrated on his team and the tournament.

"Just as we were preparing for penalty kicks I signaled to score a third goal if the chance came up and it worked," said Terim.

Terim added he had told his players to go forward even after Turkey's second goal.

INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS

Turkey have seven players injured or suspended ahead of Friday's Euro 2008 quarter-final against Croatia.

Emre Gungor, carried off in the second half of Sunday's game, is their biggest concern. He has a calf strain and may miss the rest of the finals, Terim told the news conference. The central defender is having a scan later in the day and a decision will be made once the results are known.

“The first thing I saw this morning when I woke up was the list of seven players injured or suspended," Terim said, adding some will have scans today and we then will learn more about their condition.

Terim said 2002 World Cup hero Rustu Recber would replace goalkeeper Demirel, who was sent off in the Czech match, in goal in Vienna on Friday.

Defensive midfielder Mehmet Aurelio is also suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament.

Terim said captain Emre Belozoglu may replace Aurelio, adding Tumer Metin, another player could play in his position, has a groin strain

Belozoglu has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the opening defeat by Portugal.

Turkey's central defensive pair Servet Cetin and Gokhan Zan are also struggling with injury.
  
Photo: AP

 

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