Turkey - Nothing is impossible but miracles take time
Croatian hearts in their quarter-final match of Euro 2008 Friday, as first a
last-gasp equalizer from substitute Semih Senturk and then a 3-1 penalty
shoot-out victory sealed a dramatic win.
The first 90 minutes, which ended goalless, gave no indication of the drama to come in extra-time as Turkey came back from the dead for the third match in a row.
Substitute Ivan Klasnic looked to have booked Croatia's place in the last four with a header in the 119th minute but there was still time for Turkey's Semih to blast home an equalizer with the last kick of the game.
The goal clearly broke Croatia both mentally as well as physically as Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic missed the target with their spot kicks while veteran Turkey goalkeeper Recber Rustu saved Mladen Petric's effort to complete an incredible comeback.
It was the third match in a row at this tournament that Turkey managed to turn a deficit around at the death. Arda Turan netted a last-minute winner against Switzerland and also scored in Turkey's subsequent two-goal comeback against the Czechs, when Nihat Kahveci scored twice in the last three minutes in a 3-2 win.
Turkey coach Fatih Terim said he tried to impart his philosophy that "nothing is impossible but miracles take time" on his players.
"I told them never to give up," he said. "I set them very important goals. I said that they shouldn't be afraid to lose, to concede or to give up until the final whistle."
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said the result would "haunt me for the rest of my life" before adding that Turkey's last-gasp heroics were no coincidence.
"This is the third match that they have won in this extreme fashion," he said. "If they continue to be lucky and don't give up they could reach the final.
"They don't just have quality, they have something else and you need that something else in football."
Terim agreed: "My colleague is right. We do have that something extra special."
With Emre Asik, Arda, Tuncay Sanli and Volkan Demirel (pending his appeal against a two-match ban) all suspended for Wednesday's semi- final against Germany and captain Nihat the latest on the injury list, Turkey will have it all to do against the three-time winners.
Earlier Germany coach Joachim Loew said he believes that his side's elimination of Portugal the previous night shows that Germany are "a force to be reckoned with" at Euro.
"We showed in this game that we are a factor in this tournament and that the strong Portuguese weren't able to withstand the pressure of a quarter-final," he said.
Loew may have Torsten Frings back in action for the match against Turkey in Basle as he continues his recovery from a cracked rib. The Werder Bremen player trained Friday with his chest taped but was kept out of any tackling.
Russian coach Guus Hiddink hopes to become a traitor by guiding Russia to victory over his native Netherlands in the tournament's third quarter-final in Basle on Saturday.
"I hope to be a big traitor tomorrow (Saturday). Maybe in Holland they won't let me in afterwards, but I don't mind, I am used to that," he said.
Italy defender Andrea Barzagli has undergone a short operation on his injured left knee. The arthroscopic surgery in a Vienna hospital was carried out by team doctor Andrea Ferretti.
Barzagli, who joins German club VfL Wolfsburg for the new season, will play no further part in Euro 2008 but wants to stay with the Italy squad, just like captain Fabio Canavaro who is also with the Azzurri despite a pre-tournament injury, dpa reported.