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Comeback kings Turkey reach Euro semifinals

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Turkey have beaten Croatia 3-1 in a penalty shootout in the second quarterfinal match of Euro 2008, being co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria.

This content was published on June 20, 2008 - 23:59

After a scoreless 90 minutes, Ivan Klasnic gave Croatia the lead in Vienna with a header in 119th minute. Incredibly, Semih Senturk equalised in injury time with a hard shot from inside the area.

Senturk's goal stunned the Croats and when Turkish goalkeeper Rustu saved a penalty shot from Mladen Petric, the Turks were through.

Arda Turan, Semih Senturk and Hamit Altintop all scored for Turkey in the shootout. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic missed their penalties for Croatia. Darijo Srna scored Croatia's only penalty.

Turkey will face Germany in the semifinals on June 25 in Basel. Germany beat Portugal 3-2 on Thursday.

Turkey have rallied to win their last two matches, beating Switzerland 2-1 and then getting two goals in the final three minutes to beat the Czech Republic and advance to the quarterfinals.

In a low-quality match marked by defensive caution at Ernst Happel Stadium, a depleted Turkish team restricted Croatia to few opportunities by pressing in midfield and not allowing its opponents time on the ball.

Croatian striker Ivica Olic hit the crossbar in the 19th minute from close range after a low cross from Modric, but both teams were too often guilty of taking the wrong option in the final third of the pitch.

Rustu, playing for the suspended Volkan Demirel, preserved the scoreline in the 83rd minute when he made an amazing one-handed save from a free kick by Srna.

Both teams made their European Championships debut at Euro 1996 in England and played each other, with Croatia winning 1-0 with current coach Slaven Bilic playing in defence as Turkey finished the tournament without scoring a goal.

The only other previous matches between the teams had resulted in draws: 1-1 in 1997 and 2-2 in 2004.

Injuries

Turkey started brightly with Turan and Tuncay Sanli running at Croatia's compressed defensive alignment, while Altintop drove forward from the centre of midfield instead of his listed right back position.

The Turks were missing Emre Gungor, Servet Cetin, Emre Belozoglu, Tumer Metin with injuries, while Demirel and defensive midfielder Mehmet Aurelio were both suspended.

Rustu replaced Demirel to play his 117th international match, but he failed to come for a through ball in the 11th minute and only a timely intervention by a defender prevented Srna's pass across goal reaching a teammate.

Eight minutes later, Srna threaded a pass behind the defence and Modric's low, sweeping cross was thundered against the crossbar by Olic from inside the box, and Niko Kranjcar's follow-up header went wide.

Croatia's narrow defensive positioning was switching constantly into a full attacking width, allowing Srna, Olic and Danijel Pranjic to chase after Modric's passes down the flanks and stretch the Turkish defence.

Yellow cards

Tuncay, one of eight Turkish players a yellow card away from missing the next round, was booked in the 27th minute. He was again on the wrong side of the referee's decision ten minutes later when he was denied a penalty after a collision with defender Josip Simunic in the box.

Tuncay, Altintop and Nihat Kahveci were central to most of Turkey's intermittent scoring threats, but it was defensive midfielder Mehmet Topal who hit a 35-metre drive that only just faded across Stipe Pletikosa's goal in the 38th minute.

Turan was booked in the 48th minute to also be ruled out of the next game, before Turkey almost gave up a goal when Gokhan Zan's backheader was intercepted by Olic and his headed centring ball was hacked away near the line.

A neat turn from Modric and slide pass put Kranjcar in on goal in the 57th minute, but he had no backlift on his shot and Rustu saved down low in one of the few on-target attempts.

Bilic brought on Petric to replace Kranjcar for more attacking thrust, while the introduction of Turkey substitutes Ugur Boral and Senturk was to shore up midfield positions.

In the 70th minute Rakitic swapped passes with Olic to surge into the area before blasting over the bar, and soon after Olic rose high to direct a header just wide of Rustu and the post.

Both teams have reached the quarterfinals once before: Croatia in 1996 and Turkey four years later in Belgium and the Netherlands.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Vedran Corluka, Josip Simunic, Robert Kovac, Danijel Pranjic, Darijo Srna, Niko Kovac, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Niko Kranjcar (Mladen Petric, 64), Ivica Olic.

Turkey: Rustu Recber, Hamit Altintop, Gokhan Zan, Emre Asik, Hakan Balta, Mehmet Topal (Semih Senturk, 76), Sabri Sarioglu, Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan, Kazim Kazim (Ugur Boral, 61), Nihat Kahveci.

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Euro 2008

Switzerland is co-hosting the Euro 2008 football tournament with Austria from June 7-29.

The first round games were played in four cities in Switzerland (Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich) and four cities in Austria (Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna). The quarterfinals and semifinals are being hosted by Basel and Vienna, and the final will be held in Vienna on June 29.

The finals will be broadcast in 170 countries and are expected to be watched by about eight billion cumulative TV viewers.

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