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Euro 2008: Czechs rue Cech fumble, Turkey in quarters

Associated Press
Jun 16, 2008 at 01:55pm IST

Geneva: Having seemingly ruined a European Championship campaign that began in September 2006 by conceding two goals in the first hour against the Czech Republic with a quarter-final berth on the line, Turkey needed just 15 minutes to undo all their sins.

Arda Turan scored in the 75th minute before Nihat Kahveci added two late goals on Sunday for the Turks to come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Stade Geneve and go through to the quarter-finals as runner-up in Group B.

"It would be wrong to say that we did anything right at all until we went down 2-0," said Nihat, who scored in the 87th and 89th minutes.

BULLS EYE: Turkey's Nihat Kahveci scores his side's third goal during the Group A match against Czech Republic.

"But there was a Turkish national team on the field that fought until the end of the game."

Turkey's plan to crowd the midfield and impose pressure when pushing forward got off to a bad start when defensive midfielder Mehmet Aurelio received his second yellow card of the tournament in the 10th to rule him out of the next game.

If that wasn't bad enough, the 2.01-meter (6-foot-7) Czech striker Jan Koller used his height to head in a cross from Zdenek Grygera into the upper right corner past Volkan Demirel in the 34th minute for a national record 55th goal in 90 internationals.

The second half didn't start particularly well for Turkey, either.

The Czechs looked comfortable in possession as they spread the ball and forced their opponents to chase the game, causing frustration and fatigue levels to rise.

The Czechs took a 2-0 lead in the 62nd under a steady rain when Libor Sionko sent a low cross into the area and Plasil threw his whole body sliding into the ball.

For the second time, Demirel got a touch of the ball but not enough to keep it out.

Facing certain elimination, Turkey pushed forward in numbers.

Turan started the comeback for the Turks in the 75th by finishing off a sweeping move with a low drive that goalkeeper Petr Cech could only deflect off his post and across the line.

With confidence growing, the Turks started doing what they are best at: keeping the ball in midfield and passing it from one side of the pitch to the other, probing for gaps in the defence.

Suddenly, the pressure told on one of the players least likely to crack.

Cech, one of the world's greatest goalkeepers, fumbled a simple cross in the 87th minute and Nihat was on the spot to slide the ball into the net.

The momentum was all with the Turks now as Czech coach Karel Bruckner barked orders from the sideline, but his defence faltered again when Nihat found himself in space and curled a right-footed shot into the net off the underside of the bar to complete the stunning turnaround.

Not even the late dismissal of Demirel for pushing Koller could ruin the moment for Turkey.

"It's very rare to see games like these in the European Championship," Nihat said.

"Seeing the ball in the net and knowing that the goal was bringing a win and the quarterfinal berth. It was an unbelievable feeling. I cannot describe it. You have to live it yourself."

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