• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Demiral brace sends Turkey into Euro 2024 last 8


Merih Demiral scored twice as Turkey defeated Austria 2-1 in Leipzig, setting up a quarter-final clash with the Netherlands at Euro 2024.

However, it took a wonder save from Mert Gunok in stoppage time to secure the win.

Austria, known for their quick starts in previous matches, found themselves on the back foot early on. Arda Guler, the teenage sensation, delivered a corner that goalkeeper Patrick Pentz failed to handle, allowing Demiral to fire home. The Al-Ahli center-back struck after just 58 seconds and later produced a towering header on the hour mark to double Turkey’s lead.

Michael Gregoritsch quickly responded for Austria, and only a stunning save from Gunok denied Christoph Baumgartner a dramatic equalizer deep into stoppage time. Turkey will now face the Netherlands in the last eight in Berlin on Saturday.

“I’m happy for him, for the team, for the country, and I’m happy for the group we have created here,” said Turkey boss Vincenzo Montella.

“Well done to Mert. That’s his job to make saves, and we are glad he made a match-winning save in the final minutes.”

Austria had emerged as the dark horse, having topped a group including France and the Netherlands. Ralf Rangnick’s side had also thrashed Turkey 6-1 in a friendly in March, but this time they failed to recover from a nightmare start.

“I cannot imagine we are going home. We thought we would continue our journey here and get ready for the next few games, and the players feel the same,” said Rangnick. “That’s how it works with knockout games: one team progresses, and the other doesn’t. Of course, disappointment is the main sentiment.”

Real Madrid’s Arda Guler was a constant threat to the Austrian defense, and his teasing delivery from a corner caused chaos in the first minute.

Baumgartner’s clearance off the line hit teammate Stefan Posch, and goalkeeper Patrick Pentz’s save fell to Demiral, who lashed into the roof of the net for the second fastest goal ever at a European Championship.

Turkey’s raucous fans exploded in a deafening celebration, but they were nearly brought back down to earth immediately. Baumgartner fired inches wide from the edge of the box before Demiral somehow prevented the RB Leipzig midfielder from scoring at his home ground as a dangerous Austrian corner flashed across goal.

Montella noted that absent captain Hakan Calhanoglu, who was missing due to suspension, was “irreplaceable.” However, Guler assumed responsibility in the playmaking role and nearly produced a stunning second for his side with an audacious attempt from the halfway line that drifted wide.

Demiral took the player-of-the-match award but owed both goals to the sensational delivery of 19-year-old Guler. His inswinging corners were too good for Austria and were instrumental in Turkey winning this tie. It needed Gunok to see it through.