Merih Demiral double sends Türkiye into EURO quarter-finals

Türkiye are through to their first major tournament quarter-final in 16 years after a Merih Demiral-inspired victory over Austria propelled them into the last eight of UEFA EURO 2024. This was a night which started with the fastest-ever EURO knockout goal and ended in pure, unrelenting drama.

Fast starts are Austria’s “unique selling point” according to Christoph Baumgartner, but it was Türkiye who were trading in speed out of the blocks here. Austria failed to clear from the first corner of the game and, with just 57 seconds on the clock, Merih Demiral smashed in.

Baumgartner flashed a shot just wide moments later and then, with still just five minutes gone, Austria so nearly bundled in from a corner of their own.

Arda Güler chanced his arm from the halfway line – confidence was evidently brimming – before Merih Demiral headed over from another set piece. Austria settled and came within a whisker of going in level only for Baumgartner to prod Romano Schmid’s cross just off target.

Ralf Rangnick’s double half-time change brought about a sharp uplift in intensity so it was little surprise five minutes later when Marko Arnautović came closest yet to restoring parity only for Mert Günok to smother his shot.

Türkiye’s backs were suddenly against the wall, but it was a barricade now shored up by the deafening support behind Mert Günok’s goal.

Slowly but surely they rode the storm and found their way back into opposition territory. Another corner, another Arda Güler delivery, another Merih Demiral header. This time, it hit the back of the net.

Yet Austria still were not done, half-time substitute Michael Gregoritsch converting Stefan Posch’s flick-on at the back post – another goal from a corner.

The noise was deafening, the tension unbearable, the rain relentless, the drama unmatched. Türkiye stood firm – but only after Mert Günok’s incredible 95th-minute save to claw away Baumgartner’s header. What a game. And breathe.


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