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Relentless Germans turn tables on Turkey

June 26, 2008 12:20 IST

Germany made all the mistakes they had promised to avoid in Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final against Turkey but they squeezed through 3-2 after learning a lesson from their devastated opponents.

For most of an error-strewn match at St Jakob Park in Basel, Germany were too casual on the ball, too predictable in their movements and lacked the sort of patience you need to find the space and time to hurt a side defending with such concentration.

They underestimated Turkey's ability in attack and made careless mistakes in defence, while creaking goalkeeper Jens Lehmann looked every one of his 38 years.

They got away with it because the one quality they did show was perseverance.

After an exchange of goals in the first half they took the lead with 11 minutes to go when Miroslav Klose headed in Philipp Lahm's cross, with goalkeeper Rustu Recber badly at fault.

Turkey had produced three increasingly unlikely comebacks to reach the semi-finals and, inevitably it seemed, they equalised when Semih Senturk nipped in ahead of the defence to convert a low cross at the near post.

Instead of bemoaning their luck and preparing for extra time, Germany showed that they too are capable of giving a game an unexpected late twist.

With the clock ticking down, Lahm took the ball forward down the left but instead of crossing immediately he played a one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger and ran forward before calmly curling the ball past Rustu.

ECSTATIC GERMANS

For once it was Turkey who were left exhausted after an exhilarating finish, while ecstatic Germany can look forward to Sunday's final against Russia or Spain in Vienna.

"There were a lot of things wrong with the way we played," said Klose. "We didn't do at all what we set out to do. We were always standing too far away from them.

"[But] we showed that we can always come back, and also that we can score a lot of goals even when we have few chances."

For Turkey, it is impossible not to feel sympathy.

Despite all the injuries and suspensions, coach Fatih Terim had stressed before the game that they would not be simply looking for a miracle, and his players responded with a fearless performance.

"If we had made it to extra time we could have won," said Terim. "We should never forget that we gave the Turkish people a lot. We would have loved to have given our people a final."

Germany have done just that for their fans, who were so disappointed when a team then coached by Juergen Klinsmann went out in the semi-finals of their home World Cup in 2006.

Going a stage further is a great achievement for his replacement Joachim Loew. But if Germany are to land a fourth European Championship and their first major title since 1996 he will have to cut out this worrying tendency towards complacency.

Kevin Fylan in Basel
Source:
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