Sunday, July 21, 2024

Euro 2024: Turkey through in thriller + save of the tournament

Morning.

After some less than entertaining Round of 16 games, we got a good one last night when Turkey played Austria in Leipzig. An early goal set the tone, a low corner caused problems in the box, keeper Patrick Pentz clawed the ball away, but Merih Demiral was to lash it into the roof of the net from close range.

Austria almost equalised immediately, and some a subsequent corner of their own, saw the ball flash right across the face of the Turkish goal. The game settled down a bit, Arda Guler impressed up front, and not for the first time in this tournament, we saw a player try his luck from long-distance but the Real Madrid man’s effort went wide. I do wonder if, as goalkeepers are asked to play higher and higher up, if this isn’t something we might see in the Premier League next season. It’s probably something we need to worry about ourselves, rather than start practicing.

Ralf Rangnick made half-time changes to try and alter the dynamic and cause Turkey more problems, and for the most part they worked. 15 of Austria’s 21 attempts on goal came in the second half, but as the rain teemed down, it was Turkey who doubled the lead. It was Demiral again, rising highest from a corner to plant home a great header to make it 2-0.

Austria came back, and after a couple of previous efforts, substitute Michael Gregoritsch found space at the back post to make it 2-1 just 7 minutes later. That goal had a significant impact on the final stages of the game. Turkey began to sit deeper and deeper, Austria pushed on, dominating possession and territory, but without a great deal of penetration. They were slow to get it wide, and when they eventually did and put crosses in, either Turkish defenders made the clearance, or on attacker – often Christoph Baumgartner – was wasteful with the finish.

The stats are amazing. Goalscoring hero Demiral made 17 clearances and blocked 4 shots, what an incredible defensive effort from him alone, but there were two other defenders in double figures for clearances too. I was impressed by reported left-back target Ferdi Kadioglu who looks smart on the ball, but got stuck in with 6 tackles as Austria knocked, then hammered, then battered on the door in the final few minutes.

At one end Yilmaz almost made it 3-1 on the break, only for Pentz to make a great save, before his opposite number outdid him with an absolutely incredible stop. A lofted ball into the box was going to be Austria’s last chance, Baumgartner got it spot on this time, heading down and on-target, doing everything right, but Mert Gunok’s reactions were lightning quick, and he pushed the ball away when it looked destined to hit the back of the net.

Honestly, it’s one of the best saves I’ve ever seen (here it is with Turkish commentary if you haven’t had a chance yet) – and for it to come at that point of the game too, incredible. It had shades of Gordon Banks v Brazil all those years ago, and it is unquestionably one of the moments of Euro 2024 so far. That was that, Austria were out, and Turkey through to the quarter-finals. They have been a fun side to watch throughout this tournament, and I think they should more than fancy their chances of giving the Netherlands a good game on Saturday evening.

Earlier, Ronald Koeman’s side were good value for their win over Romania. The keeper won’t want to watch the first one back, but Romania offered little in attacking threat and had be thankful for some wasteful Dutch finishing and a goal disallowed for offside. There was a late flourish when Donyell Malen, formerly of this parish, popped up with a brace – the second of which was very nicely done – and I don’t think anyone can have any complaints with how that game turned out.

So, the full line-up for the quarter-finals is as follows.

Friday

17.00 – Spain v Germany
20.00 – Portugal v France

Saturday

17.00 – England v Switzerland
20.00 – Netherlands v Turkey

To recap yesterday’s games in podcast format, join us over on Patreon a little later on and we’ll do just that. In regular rotation, there’s also a brand new Arsenal Women Arsecast in which Tim and Alex Ibaceta profile new forward signing Mariona Caldentey, and there’s a brand new Arsecast Extra below if you haven’t had a chance to listen already.

For now, have a good one folks.

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