After historic goal: Türkiye in the European Championship quarter-finals


Lerato Khumalo

Turkey took the lead with the second fastest goal in European Championship history, increased their lead and had to struggle at the end. Now the Netherlands are waiting.

Turkey has reached the quarter-finals of a European Football Championship for the first time since 2008. In a thrilling duel with Austria, coach Vincenzo Montella’s team won 2-1.

Merih Demiral put Turkey ahead after just 57 seconds following a corner. It was the fastest goal in the knockout phase of a European Championship and the second fastest in the history of the European Championship.

Demiral was also responsible for the 2-0, this time with a header and again after a corner (59th minute). Substitute Michael Gregoritsch reduced the deficit to 1-2 (66th minute) for the wildly attacking Austrians, but the equalizer was not forthcoming.

Rangnick’s hopes of a bit of home game atmosphere on his return to Leipzig were quickly dashed: almost all the fans wore red – but the majority of the 38,305 spectators were Turkish supporters. They were loud and became even louder after less than a minute when the ball hit the net of the Austrian goal in front of the Turkish fans’ corner.

After a corner from the left, Leipzig’s Christoph Baumgartner cleared the ball before it crossed the line, but the ball bounced off teammate Stefan Posch and goalkeeper Patrick Pentz saved it right at Demiral’s feet. The professional from the Saudi Arabian league did not hesitate and caused the first explosion of joy. Even the Turkish sports director and former Bundesliga professional Hamit Altintop rubbed his eyes in disbelief in the stands.

Rangnick had to digest this on the sidelines. Quick goals are actually his team’s speciality. Just before the goal, Borussia Dortmund’s former RB professional Marcel Sabitzer was unable to get to the ball after a pass from Baumgartner.

Rangnick and his players had expected a hot game after winning a friendly against Turkey 6-1 in March. And Austria, which qualified for the round of 16 as group winners ahead of France, the Netherlands and Poland, got it. Güler whipped up the Turkish fans and repeatedly posed a threat with his corners.

But Rangnick’s pressing machine had to make the game. Baumgartner, who had recently scored six goals in eight games, had the best chance to equalize. The RB professional failed with a long-range shot (2nd) under pressure from an opponent after a flat corner in front of the goal line.

The Turks were able to do what is actually Austria’s strength: counterattack. And they remained dangerous. Really good scenes from Rangnick’s team, who once played a key role in shaping RB’s rapid advance in Leipzig from 2012 to 2019, were in short supply until halftime.

It was clear that this had to change. The Austrians pressed hard after the break. Captain Marko Arnautović (51′) missed the best opportunity when he was unmarked.

And then this: Another corner, again taken by Güler. And again it was Demiral who scored. Flanked by two Austrians who didn’t jump high enough, he headed the ball in.

Was that it? No, because Austria pulled themselves together and reduced the deficit through substitute Gregoritsch. Playing against the booing Turkish fans, all further attacking efforts were unsuccessful despite constant pressure in the final phase. Baumgartner missed the big chance in the fifth minute of stoppage time. And Rangnick watched his team’s demise from the sidelines, petrified in the constant rain.