German defender Philipp Lahm’s 90th minute goal sealed a 3-2 win over an injury-plagued Turkey on Wednesday night in the UEFA Semifinal. Three times European champions Germany are now assured of a spot in the finals in Vienna on Sunday.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose had nudged his side into the lead on 79 minutes after Bastian Schweinsteiger’s first-half goal had cancelled out Ugur Boral’s early strike as Turkey had taken a shock lead. This was Germany’s first win over Turkey since May 1992 and Fatih Terim’s battered side used their never-say-die spirit forced the Germans to work hard.
Having reached Basel’s St Jakob-Park semi-final by forging a reputation as the tournament’s come-back kings with last-gasp wins over Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Turkey threatened Germany with the same treatment.
Coach Fatih Terim had said he wanted to put his team on the map and their battling spirit has reminded the footballing world again what Turkey can do having reached the 2002 World Cup semi-final.
Turkey were without the banned quartet of keeper Volkan Demirel, Middlesbrough’s Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan who scored their last gasp winner against the Swiss, and Emre Asik. Captain Nihat Kahveci, whose pair of late goals sank the Czech Republic, was missing with a thigh injury.
In contrast, Germany had all 23-men fit and ready to go having responded to their shock 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the group stages by knocking-out much-fancied Portugal with an impressive 3-2 defeat here last Thursday.
Germany coach Joachim Loew played the same line-up and 4-5-1 formation he had used against Portugal for the semi-final, but it was the Turks who dominated the first-half chances with Kazim Kazim driving a shot against the bar on 14 minutes.
And Turkey took a deserved lead when Kazim again hit the cross-bar before Fenerbahce’s Ugur Boral fired at Jens Lehmann who watched helplessly as the ball trickled over the line on 22 minutes.
Germany’s reply was immediate as attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski slid in a cross which Portugal’s tormentor Bastian Schweinsteiger flicked into the net on 26 minutes for his second goal in two games.
Lehmann was in action again as he punched clear Hamit Altintop’s free-kick just after the half-hour mark one of nine first-half chances Turkey created compared to Germany’s one. At the break Simon Rolfes made way for Torsten Frings in Germany’s midfield and match-winner Lahm was unlucky not to have won a penalty when he was brought down on the edge of the area by Sabri Sarioglu on 52 minutes.
In a much-tighter second half, Turkey kept the pressure on with Altintop bossing the midfield against his Bayern Munich colleagues in Germany’s ranks.
But the break through came in the 79th minute when Bayern striker Klose rose above three Turkish defenders and goalkeeper Recber Rustu to score his second goal in two games.
Turkey pulled a late goal out of the bag for the fourth time in succession when Semih slipped marker Per Mertesacker to stab home Sabri Sarioglu’s cross on 86 minutes to equalise.
But Lahm put German fans in seventh heaven with his 90th minute strike to send his side to Vienna.