Home Football Turkey’s Merih Demiral Secures Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals Spot with Austria Win

Turkey’s Merih Demiral Secures Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals Spot with Austria Win

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Merih Demiral: The Unlikely Hero

Merih Demiral emerged as Turkey’s unexpected hero, scoring both goals in a thrilling 2-1 victory over Austria. This win secured Turkey’s place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals. The Al-Ahli center-back struck early, finding the net after just 58 seconds. Later, he doubled Turkey’s lead with a powerful header at the hour mark.

Austria’s Quick Response

Austria responded swiftly, with Michael Gregoritsch pulling a goal back. However, a stunning save from Turkey’s goalkeeper, Mert Gunok, denied Christoph Baumgartner a last-minute equalizer. This win means Turkey will face the Netherlands in the last eight in Berlin on Saturday.

Austria’s Journey

Austria entered the match as dark horses, having topped a group that included France and the Netherlands. They were confident after a resounding 6-1 friendly win over Turkey in March. But this time, they couldn’t recover from an early setback.

Turkey’s Early Lead

Real Madrid’s Arda Guler was a constant threat to the Austrian defense. His corner delivery in the first minute caused chaos. Baumgartner’s clearance off the line hit teammate Stefan Posch, and goalkeeper Patrick Pentz could only claw it out to Demiral, who lashed it into the net. This goal was the second fastest in European Championship history.

Austria’s Fightback

Austria nearly equalized immediately, with Baumgartner firing just wide. Demiral also made a crucial clearance from an Austrian corner. Turkey’s coach, Vincenzo Montella, emphasized the irreplaceable role of absent captain Hakan Calhanoglu, who missed the game due to suspension.

Guler’s Influence

Guler assumed playmaking duties and almost scored a stunning second goal from the halfway line. Austria, under coach Ralf Rangnick, had a high winning percentage in European football since his appointment two years ago.

Gunok’s Heroics

Rangnick made halftime changes, including bringing on Gregoritsch. Austria began cutting through the Turkish defense, but Gunok made a brilliant save against Marko Arnautovic. Bayern Munich’s Konrad Laimer also missed a chance after a fine run.

Demiral’s Second Goal

Guler’s corners continued to trouble Austria. Demiral’s second goal made him the first European defender to score twice in the knockout stages of a major tournament since Lilian Thuram in 1998.

Austria’s Response

Austria got back into the game with a set-piece goal, as Gregoritsch scored from a flick-on by Posch. The atmosphere in Leipzig was electric, with Turkey’s large expat population in Germany creating a home-game feel for Montella’s men.

Dramatic End

A torrential downpour and a sensational atmosphere set the stage for a dramatic ending. Sabitzer was struck by an object thrown from the crowd, adding tension. Baris Alper Yilmaz was denied a third goal for Turkey by Pentz’s fine save in stoppage time. Gunok then made a remarkable save to deny Baumgartner’s header, reminiscent of Gordon Banks’ iconic stop from Pele in 1970.

Turkey’s Triumph

Turkey stood firm against Austria’s aerial bombardment, reaching the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008. This victory highlighted their resilience and determination, setting up an exciting clash with the Netherlands.