Merih Demiral's double sends Turkey into Euro 2024 quarter-finals at the expense of Austria

Merih Demiral's double sends Turkey into Euro 2024 quarter-finals at the expense of Austria






Merih Demiral was Turkey's unlikely hero, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Austria on Tuesday that booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals. The Al-Ahly centre-back scored after just 58 seconds and scored a superb header on the hour mark to double Turkey's lead. Michael Gregoritsch pulled a goal back for Austria early on and only Mert Gunok's superb save prevented Christoph Baumgartner from scoring a dramatic equaliser in stoppage-time. Turkey advance to face the Netherlands in the last eight in Berlin on Saturday. Austria had emerged as a dark horse to advance on the perceived weaker side of the draw after topping a group including France and the Netherlands.

Ralf Rangnick's side also beat Turkey 6-1 in a friendly in March but this time they failed to recover from a bad start.

Real Madrid's Arda Guler was a constant threat to the Austrian defence and his attractive delivery from a corner caused chaos in the first minute itself.

Baumgartner's clearance off the line of the ball reached teammate Stefan Posch, who was passed by goalkeeper Patrik Pentz to Demiral who headed the ball into the net for the second fastest goal in the European Championship.

The furious Turkish fans celebrated wildly but had to return to the ground immediately.

Baumgartner struck the ball from inches from the edge of the box, but Demiral somehow prevented the RB Leipzig midfielder from heading home after a dangerous Austrian corner went wide of the goal.

Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella said no one could replace captain Hakan Calhanoglu, who is absent due to suspension.

However, Guller took charge in the playmaking role and almost scored a stunning second goal for his side with a bold effort from the halfway line which missed.

Only Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands have a higher win percentage in European football since Rangnick took charge of Austria two years ago.

Gunnok to the rescue

The former Manchester United boss made two changes at half-time, including bringing in Gregoritsch, who scored a hat-trick when the two teams met three months ago.

Rangnick received the response he had hoped for, as Austria began to penetrate the Turkish defenses.

Gunok spread himself superbly to stop Marko Arnautovic from one-on-one before Bayern Munich's Konrad Laimer missed a fine run from the middle.

However, they failed to learn from a Guler corner as another tempting ball was headed into the net by Demiral.

In doing so, the 26-year-old defender became the first European defender to score twice in the knockout stage of a major tournament since Lilian Thuram for France at the 1998 World Cup.

It was a set-piece from the other side that brought Austria back into the game seven minutes later.

Posch swept the ball from Marcel Sabitzer's corner to Gregoritsch who headed the ball into the net.

Even torrential rain could not dampen the sensational atmosphere in Leipzig, as the match was a home fixture for Montella due to Germany's large Turkish migrant population.

The jubilant atmosphere was marred when Sabitzer was hit by an object thrown from the crowd as he prepared to turn a corner.

Pentz made a superb save in extra time to deny Baris Alper Yilmaz a third goal for Turkey.

It almost proved decisive, as Gunok had to make a superb stop to prevent Baumgartner's downward header from going into the far corner.

It was an incredible save reminiscent of England goalkeeper Gordon Banks' memorable save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup.

But Turkey held their ground amid Austria's aerial bombardment and reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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