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Turkey vs Austria: Merih Demiral’s Double Sends Turkey to Euro 2024 Quarterfinals

A thrilling match in the Euro 2024 round of 16 saw Turkey secure a 2-1 victory over Austria, setting up a quarterfinal clash against the Netherlands. The game, held at Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, was marked by an early goal, relentless action, and a stunning last-minute save.

Merih Demiral, the Al-Ahli center-back, was the star of the night, scoring twice to lead his team to victory. His first goal came just 57 seconds into the match, making it the fastest knockout stage goal in European Championship history. This goal set the tone for a match that would be filled with high-intensity play and dramatic moments.

The game began at a frenetic pace with both teams creating opportunities within the first 30 seconds. Turkey capitalized on a defensive mishap by Austria when Baumgartner’s attempted clearance rebounded off his teammate Stefan Posch and was saved off the line by goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, only for Demiral to pounce and score.

This early strike led to wild celebrations among the Turkish fans, both in the stadium and across Germany, where there is a significant Turkish community. The goal was reminiscent of Albania’s record-setting 23-second goal against Italy in the group stage.

Austria, managed by Ralf Rangnick, almost equalized immediately, but Demiral’s defensive efforts kept Baumgartner from scoring. Despite being without their captain David Alaba due to injury, Austria pushed hard and dominated the play after the initial setback. However, their attempts were repeatedly thwarted by a solid Turkish defense and the agile goalkeeping of Mert Gunok.

In the 59th minute, Turkey extended their lead through another set piece. Arda Guler, unfazed by a shower of beer cups from the stands, delivered a perfect corner that Demiral headed into the net for his second goal of the night. This put Turkey in a commanding position, though Austria quickly responded.

Austria’s Michael Gregoritsch, brought on at halftime, made an immediate impact. In the 64th minute, he volleyed home a flicked-on corner from Stefan Posch, making it 2-1 and setting up a tense final period of the match. Despite numerous attempts, Austria could not find the equalizer.

The match reached its climax in injury time when Christoph Baumgartner’s close-range header seemed destined for the net. However, Mert Gunok made a spectacular save, diving to his right to palm the ball away, drawing comparisons to Gordon Banks’ famous save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup.

Austria’s coach Ralf Rangnick expressed his disappointment, believing his team could have won if the game had gone to extra time. “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,” Rangnick said.

Turkey’s coach Vincenzo Montella praised his team’s resilience and tactical flexibility, noting their ability to bypass Austria’s high press with longer balls and then mix their passing when necessary.

With this victory, Turkey advances to the Euro 2024 quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. They will face the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday. The Dutch team, managed by Ronald Koeman, secured their quarterfinal spot with a convincing 3-0 win over Romania earlier in the day.

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