Demiral’s double helps Turkey top Austria for Euro quarterfinal berth

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LEIPZIG, Germany — A first-minute goal and a stellar save in the final seconds helped send Turkey into the quarterfinals of Euro 2024.

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Merih Demiral scored twice, including the opener after just 57 seconds, and goalkeeper Mert Gunok pulled off one of the saves of tournament deep into injury time as Turkey beat Austria 2-1 in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

“Our team spirit showed until the last minute,” Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella said.

Gunok showed great reflexes and agility, diving to his right to palm away a close-range header from Christoph Baumgartner four minutes into added time.

That save set up a quarterfinal on Saturday against the Netherlands, a team Montella said fights “like lions.

“We will gather our mental and physical strength and keep following our path,” he said.

Austria had 21 attempts compared with Turkey’s six, regularly testing Gunok.

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“I’m sure that if Baumi had scored to take the game to extra time, we would have gone on to win the match,” Austria coach Ralf Rangnick said. “The only thing we could be accused of is that we didn’t score enough goals from the chances we had, and that we didn’t work well twice for set pieces.”

The game got off to a ferocious start. Both teams had chances inside the first 30 seconds before Demiral scored when the Austrian defence failed to deal with a corner.

Baumgartner’s attempted clearance rebounded back off teammate Stefan Posch to goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, who scooped it off the line only for Demiral to pounce on the rebound and score.

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It was the second-fastest goal at the Euros — Albania scored after 23 seconds against Italy in the group stage.

Demiral’s goal set off wild celebrations among the majority of fans in the stadium — and plenty outside it, too. Germany is home to some three million Turks or people with Turkish roots, making them the country’s largest ethnic minority, and the team has been enjoying fevered support at Euro 2024.

Austria almost responded but Demiral somehow did enough to keep Baumgartner from scoring on the line.

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The Austrians emerged with renewed vigour after the break, but a corner gave Turkey respite. A shower of beer cups failed to put off Arda Guler as he delivered a perfect cross for Demiral to head in his second goal in the 59th.

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Austria’s corner-taker, Marcel Sabitzer, was also pelted with beer cups at the other end and at one point went down on the ground clutching his head to indicate he had been hit. But was quickly back on his feet.

Stefan Posch headed on Sabitzer’s delivery for the unmarked Gregoritsch to volley home at the back post.

Neither team could add any more despite a flurry of chances in the rain, with Gunok coming up with his biggest save in the final seconds.

Both teams were without regular captains. Turkey’s Hakan Calhanoglu was suspended and Austria’s David Alaba, arguably the country’s best player, is still recovering from a knee injury that kept him from playing in the tournament.,

Alaba was there to support the team as it surprisingly topped a group with France and the Netherlands, and he shared a warm embrace with Guler, his Real Madrid teammate, before kickoff.

The Netherlands earlier defeated Romania 3-0 to progress.

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