Arda Turan’s injury-time strike gave Turkey a dramatic 2-1 victory against Switzerland in Basel
Arda’s late goal means Turkey will face Czech Republic on June 15, to decide which nation secures the second qualifying spot from Group A. Portugal are assured of progressing as group winners.
Turkey started brightly, and began passing the ball fluently in midfield, but the deluge duly arrived and with it went the opportunity to patiently construct attacks and dominate possession.
The rain was fierce and plentiful, and took scant time in altering the playing conditions irreparably. Players struggled to maintain their footing and the ball was frequently brought to an abrupt halt by lying water – with Switzerland’s goal the defining example.
Turkey almost went ahead against the run of play on 29 minutes, however, when Diego Benaglio failed to deal with Nihat’s right-wing cross. His weak punch struck Arda on the back of the head and flew against the post.
Seconds later, Switzerland had the lead their dominance deserved. 19-year-old Eren Derdiyok was played through and he showed fine composure to square for Yakin two yards out. The ball stuck comically in a puddle, but Yakin had plenty of time to sweep home and put his side ahead.
Soon after, the Swiss should have doubled their lead. This time Behrami played provider, but Yakin somehow missed with the goal gaping from five yards.
With the second half came a more direct approach from Turkey, who finally began to adapt to the adverse conditions. Tuncay and Nihat began to impose themselves and the Turks drew level just shy of the hour mark.
Nihat was the architect, whipping in a left-wing cross which substitute Semih Senturk headed home from 10 yards. In truth, Benaglio should have stopped it, but the Swiss keeper palmed the ball up into the net instead of away to safety.
Meanwhile, tackles were flying in on the treacherous turf and four yellow cards were distributed in recognition – Hakan Balta, Aurelio and Tuncay for Turkey, and Derdiyok for Switzerland – though his came as a result of kicking the ball away. The game threatened to boil over.
With stakes high, the two teams searched in vain for the goal which would breathe life into their campaign, but it appeared both would have to make do with a point.
But with two minutes of injury time on the clock, Arda cut in from the left and sent a deflected shot past Benaglio to send the travelling Turkish fans into wild celebration and confirm Switzerland as the first side out of Euro 2008, just five days into the tournament.