• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

FOOTBALL

Turkey beat Austria to set up Euro quarters clash with Netherlands

Merih Demiral was the standout for Turkey, scoring an early goal in Leipzig and then heading in the decisive goal just before the hour mark. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Turkey will face the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals after a 2-1 victory over Austria, marking the first time both countries have reached the last eight of a European Championship since 2008.

Merih Demiral was the standout for Turkey, scoring an early goal in Leipzig and then heading in the decisive goal just before the hour mark.

Vincenzo Montella’s team, missing suspended captain Hakan Calhanoglu but supported by a large crowd at the Zentralstadion, will play the Dutch in Berlin on Saturday after their 3-0 win over Romania earlier on Tuesday.

Turkey were defeated 6-1 by Austria in March, and Montella admitted he sought revenge for that loss.

“I denied it yesterday but today I can admit that Austria was the team I wanted so that I could get rid of that stain that as a coach I had on me,” said Montella.

Turkey will again have strong support in the German capital as they aim to replicate their run to the semi-finals from 16 years ago.

Austria, co-hosts of that tournament, were competitive and might have won on another day. Ralf Rangnick’s side dominated much of the match, especially in the second half, but conceded the second goal against the run of play.

Demiral, from Al-Ahli, became the first European defender to score twice in the knockout stages of a major tournament since Lilian Thuram for France in the 1998 World Cup.

Michael Gregoritsch reduced the deficit by converting Stefan Posch’s flick-on at a corner shortly after Demiral’s second goal. However, Austria couldn’t capitalize on their dominance, with Christoph Baumgartner being denied a last-minute equalizer by a save from Mert Gunok.

“I believe if the game had gone into extra-time we would have won the game because the Turkish team were exhausted and we had a physical advantage,” Rangnick told reporters.

Dutch ease through

Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malen, who scored twice in the second half, helped the Netherlands reach the last eight.

Ronald Koeman’s team, criticised after their 3-2 defeat to Austria which led them to finish third in Group D, were impressive on Tuesday, creating many chances and winning deservedly at the Allianz Arena.

“We showed a good reaction from the last match and I’m very pleased… We took a step in the right direction today,” said Liverpool forward Gakpo.

“It’s all about aggression and intensity and defending like a team and I think it was a good step and an important one.”

Gakpo was the Netherlands’ standout performer, scoring in the 20th minute with a powerful shot that caught goalkeeper Florin Nita off-guard. After having a second goal ruled out for offside, he set up Malen for the second goal and then added another in stoppage time.

“The only critical point was that it took us too long to score the second one,” said Koeman.

“We are Dutch, we have to play well. The performance today was outstanding and that’s why we have a chance to continue.”

The winner of the Netherlands vs. Turkey match will play either England or Switzerland next Wednesday.

(With inputs from AFP)

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