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European Football Championship: Türkiye struggles into the round of 16

European Football Championship: Türkiye struggles into the round of 16
European Football Championship: Türkiye struggles into the round of 16

Turkey struggled to a late victory against the Czech Republic despite being in the majority. Two former Bundesliga pros saved their team in Hamburg from the elimination that befell their rivals.

Hakan Calhanoglu danced with his teammates in the center circle at his old stomping ground after reaching the knockout phase of a European Championship for the first time in 16 years and enjoyed the ovations of the fans. In the 2-1 (0-0) win against the Czech Republic in Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion, the former HSV professional put the Turks in the lead with his opening goal in the 51st minute, before Cenk Tosun (90th+4) scored the winning goal late on.

The 33-year-old thus secured his team second place in Group F and a place in the round of 16. “It’s a great feeling of happiness that can hardly be described. I’m obviously happy about my goal,” said the ex-Frankfurt player, adding exuberantly: “This is just the beginning.”

The interim equaliser by captain Tomas Soucek (66th) was of no use to the Czechs, who were playing with a man down for more than 70 minutes and whose team had Antonin Barak shown a yellow-red card after just 20 minutes. The 1976 European champions were eliminated in fourth and last place in the group. Tomas Chory was also shown a red card after the final whistle following a commotion.

Now against Austria

The Turks will play Austria in the round of 16 on Tuesday (9 p.m.) in Leipzig. In 2008, they were only defeated by Germany in the semifinals. “We will prepare well and of course we want to win,” said Tosun about the difficult task against Ralf Rangnick’s team.

As expected, Turkish coach Vincenzo Montella brought in young star Arda Güler from the start. In recent days, the Italian had been criticized after he initially left the 19-year-old on the bench during the 3-0 defeat against Portugal. Montella justified this by saying that he was injured. On Tuesday, the coach had already indicated that the Real Madrid striker was fit and would play. The Czechs, on the other hand, did not field their European Championship record scorer Patrik Schick. The calf injury from the match against Georgia (1-1) proved to be too serious. The striker from German champions Bayer Leverkusen remained on the bench for the entire match – and still received a yellow card in the first half for complaining.

50,000 spectators created a party atmosphere in the evening sun in Hamburg before the match. The Turkish fans in particular were as vocal as in the previous games. However, they had to deal with the first shock after just two minutes when Lukas Provod forced the Turkish goalkeeper Mert Günok to react strongly with a shot.

Creativity was lacking

In the following period, the Czech Republic struggled to control the game. Arda Güler and the former Hamburg player Calhanoglu tried to push the Turks’ game forward. The Turks had the upper hand, but the Czechs had the more dangerous moves. Robin Hranak (17th minute) headed the ball over the goal from a promising position. Three minutes later, the Czechs suffered a setback when Barak was shown a yellow-red card. The Turks gained an even greater advantage.

However, they lacked the creativity to seriously threaten the Czechs, who were now positioned deep. They could have even taken the lead shortly before half-time through David Jurasek after a counterattack. Günok was there again. After the break, the Turks’ actions finally became more targeted. And they were successful thanks to Calhanoglu. Even more bitter for the Czechs: their previously strong goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek injured his right shoulder a few seconds earlier during a save and had to be replaced by Matej Kovar.

The Czechs did not give up and forced an equaliser through captain Soucek. The equaliser remained valid even after a VAR check. The Turks were also embarrassed several times in the final phase, but then Tosun struck shortly before the end.

Source: Stern

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