Euro 2008 – Late Lahm strike breaks Turkish hearts

Eurosport

Philipp Lahm’s last-minute goal gave Germany a dramatic 3-2 victory over Turkey in their Euro 2008 semi-final at St Jakob-Park in Basel.

FOOTBALL Euro 2008 Philipp Lahm scores the late winner for Germany in the semi-final against Turkey - 0

Turkey had the better of the game throughout and took the lead midway through the first half when Ugur Boral volleyed home, but Bastian Schweinsteiger equalised almost immediately from Lukas Podolski‘s left-wing cross.

Germany laboured for much of the second period, but went ahead for the first time through Miroslav Klose with 11 minutes to play, and it looked likely to be the winning goal until, with four minutes to play, Semih Senturk diverted Sabri Sarioglu‘s right-wing cross into the German net at the near post.

Turkey, who came from behind to beat Switzerland and the Czech Republic in the group stage and Croatia in the quarter-finals, appeared to have pulled off another remarkable comeback, but with seconds of normal time remaining left-back Lahm exchanged passes with Thomas Hitzlsperger before curling the ball past Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber to send the Germans into raptures and into the final.

Turkey went into the game with a perilously thin squad, shorn of the services of no less than eight players through either injury or suspension, but they started in enterprising fashion and Hamit Altintop drew a save from Lehmann after pouncing on a mistake by Lahm after eight minutes.

Turkey then served a serious notice of their intent when Colin Kazim-Richards cracked a shot against the crossbar from Ayhan Akman‘s cutback, and shortly afterwards a similar move produced the game’s opening goal, with Kazim-Richards diverting a right-wing cross against the crossbar and Ugur directing the rebound through Lehmann’s hands and over the line.

Germany had not been in the game, but four minutes later they equalised with their first attack of note, when Podolski sent in a low cross from the left that Schweinsteiger deftly directed past Rustu with the outside of his right foot.

The goal should have served as a catalyst for the Germans, but they again allowed themselves to be pushed back, with Semih putting a header straight at Lehmann before the German goalkeeper had to tip Altintop’s free-kick from deep on the Turkish left over the crossbar.

Podolski then missed a glorious chance to put Germany ahead when he lifted the ball over the crossbar after being put clean through on goal, but Turkey finished the first half strongly, with Mehmet Topal seeing a fierce free-kick punched away by Lehmann and Sabri driving a right-footed effort from distance just over the top.

Joachim Loew’s men were denied a free-kick in the early stages of the second half when Lahm was clearly fouled on the cusp of the Turkish area by Sabri, but referee Massimo Busacca turned a deaf ear to their furious protests.

With Turkey continuing to look assured in possession, the best Germany could muster was a couple of fierce long-range efforts from Hitzlsperger that were narrowly off-target, until Klose rose to put Lahm’s cross past a floundering Rustu with just over 10 minutes to play.

Fatih Terim’s Turkey have made a habit of coming back from the dead, and they appeared to have done so again when Sabri skinned Lahm on the Turkish right before crossing for Semih to poke the ball past Lehmann at the near post.

Sabri and Kazim-Richards had given Lahm a torrid time with their forays down the right flank, but with extra time beckoning the German left-back turned a forgettable evening into a night to remember when he ghosted into the Turkey area before expertly placing the game into the top-left corner to set up a final meeting with either Spain or Russia.

Tom Williams / Eurosport

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