Home Football Mert Gunok’s Stunning Save in Turkey’s Triumph Over Austria: A New ‘Save...

Mert Gunok’s Stunning Save in Turkey’s Triumph Over Austria: A New ‘Save of the Century’?

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The legendary save by Gordon Banks against Pele in the 1970 World Cup has long been hailed as the ‘save of the century.’ However, Turkey’s Mert Gunok may have just crafted a moment to rival that historic feat during a dramatic last-16 tie in the pouring rain of Leipzig. Gunok’s incredible leap to deny Christoph Baumgartner’s header will be remembered by anyone who witnessed it, marking a defining moment in Turkey’s 2-1 victory over Austria.

The Crucial Save

In the dying moments of the match, with Turkey clinging to their 2-1 lead, Austria mounted one final assault. Baumgartner found space at the back post and directed a powerful header towards the opposite corner. The ball skidded off the wet turf, seemingly destined to level the score. But 35-year-old Gunok, with a leap reminiscent of Banks’ heroics, managed to claw the ball away, ensuring Turkey’s passage to the quarter-finals.

Comparisons to Gordon Banks

Immediately after the final whistle, the comparison to Gordon Banks’ iconic save was on everyone’s lips. Ralf Rangnick, Austria’s manager, even humorously remarked, “We had time to score an equaliser, but it’s difficult when they have Gordon Banks in goal!”

Pundits were quick to praise Gunok’s feat. Former England defender Matthew Upson exclaimed on Radio Five Live, “It’s Gordon Banks. Unbelievable. What a moment. The keeper just spins it around the post, it’s a brilliant save.” Chris Sutton also added, “That save from Gunok is one of the great saves of Euros history.”

The Match in Detail

The match itself was a thrilling encounter played at a frenetic pace despite the torrential rain. Turkey struck early with Merih Demiral scoring the quickest knockout-stage goal in European Championship history. Austria fought back, creating numerous chances but were repeatedly denied by Gunok’s heroics.

In the first half, a header by Davinson Sanchez was disallowed for offside after a lengthy VAR check, adding to the drama. Both teams displayed relentless intensity, but it was Gunok’s save in the 94th minute that became the defining moment.

Reactions and Tributes

After the match, Turkey defender and man of the match, Merih Demiral, paid tribute to Gunok, saying, “Mert did a great job… maybe one of the best saves I saw with my own eyes.” Turkey’s manager, Vincenzo Montella, while refraining from excessive praise, acknowledged the save’s importance, stating, “Well done to Mert, that is his job, to make saves and we are very happy he made a match-winning save in the last minute.”

Fans’ Reactions

Fans and viewers were equally awestruck by Gunok’s save. Social media was flooded with admiration:

  • Andy: “You can watch football for as long as you want and I don’t think you’ll see a better save than that.”
  • Andrew: “Mert Gunok with the perfect Peter Schmeichel tribute act at the death.”
  • JMG: “That was an absolutely stunning save. In fact, stunning doesn’t even do it justice.”

Looking Forward

Turkey’s victory sets up a tantalizing quarter-final clash against the Netherlands in Berlin. Montella emphasized the importance of fan support and hard work, saying, “We have a huge following, there is passion and love… We will celebrate tonight but then we get down to work.”

Conclusion

Mert Gunok’s save against Austria may very well go down in history alongside Gordon Banks’ legendary stop. It was a moment of pure brilliance in a match filled with intensity and drama, highlighting the beauty and unpredictability of football. As Turkey marches on to face the Netherlands, fans will hope for more magic from their veteran goalkeeper.