Turkey get a bitter taste of their own late-goal medicine


Basel (Switzerland) : Turkey experienced the bitter taste of losing to a last-minute goal after having inflicted similar pain on opponents at Euro 2008.

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Turkey, whose late goals took them into the semi-finals, were on the wrong end of a dramatic finale after Philipp Lahm scored in the 90th minute for Germany just as the semi-final was heading towards extra-time.

Turkey’s super-sub Semih Senturk – starting for the first time at the tournament – had only four minutes earlier levelled an exhilarating game at 2-2 as the Turkish miracle story seemed to be gathering a fresh chapter.

There were real hopes for Turkey at the stage that record champions Germany, outplayed for much of the game, would finally crumble, but an unlikely story did not have a happy ending for Fatih Terim’s side.

“I am very sad, we were so close and my team really deserved to go through. We would have liked to have been in the final, but it was not to be,” Terim said.

Perhaps Turkey made the mistake of taking an early lead for once instead of fighting for much of the match to play catch up.

Ugur Boral managed to get the ball past keeper Jens Lehmann and over the line in the 22nd minute after Kazim Kazim struck the bar for the second time following a cross from Sabri Sarioglu.

Turkey had only held the lead for a total of nine minutes at the tournament as a result of their late winners against Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

They added just another four minutes at Basle’s St Jakob-Park stadium when the Germans, with their first chance of the game, equalized.

Bastian Schweinsteiger got to a low cross from the left from Lukas Podolski in a goal similar to Germany’s opener against Portugal in the 3-2 quarter-final victory in the same stadium.

Turkey went into the break wondering how they had managed to let their opponents back into a game in which they had already managed 15 shots to Germany’s three.

Semih Senturk led the attack in his first tournament start after previously coming off the bench to score twice in the tournament. Four suspensions and a series of injuries meant Terim had little choice to change, with few fit players remaining on the bench.

“I don’t think I play badly when I start a game, it’s just that I score goals as a substitute,” the Fenerbahce striker had said before the game.

Semih came close to depleting his side even further when he was shown a yellow card for a foul on substitute Torsten Frings and then lunged at Christoph Metzelder, but escaped with a warning.

Others were meanwhile stealing the limelight. Ugur Boral was lively on the left and then tested Lehmann with a fierce free-kick, from the right, while Kazim began strongly and Hamit Altintop was a driving force in midfield.

The Turks rode their luck when Sabriu caught Lahm for what looked like a penalty after the break but Swiss referee Massimo Busacca waved play on to the anger of the German bench. TV pictures showed the incident to be just outside the area.

It was the trigger for some some niggly fouls as the match became increasingly hectic, but none the less enthralling as Germany tried to up the pace and Turkey remained resilient.

Veteran keeper Rustu Recber allowed Germany to take the lead 11 minutes from time when he misjudged a cross from Lahm and Miroslav Klose was given an easy header.

Turkey though had not given up and when Sabri got past Lahm it was Semih who managed to get a toe to the cross to deflect the ball between Lehmann and the post.

In the previous round Turkey had hit back immediately through Semih after Croatia had scored what looked like a late winner, taking the match into extra-time and eventually penalties.

They should have learned the lesson from that. Extra-time was on the way again, but the Turkish defence was caught off guard in the final minute to allow Germany to snatch an unlikely victory.