Sunday, June 15, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Day 9 Recap

Turkey 3, Czech Republic 2
Switzerland 2, Portugal 0

In a tournament that is quickly becoming a classic, it will be tough to top Turkey-Czech Republic for the best match at Euro 2008. Trailing 2-0 with 15 minutes to play, the Turks seized second place in Group A with three goals in the final quarter hour. The Czechs had built a comfortable lead on goals by Jan Koller in the 32nd minute and Jaroslav Plasil in the 62nd. Arda Turan's 75th minute tally cut the lead in half to set up the frenzied finish.

More stunning than Turkey drawing level was the manner in which they got the goal. Usually reliable goalie Petr Cech dropped Hamit Altintop's 87th minute cross and Nihat Kahveci was there to tap home the stunning equalizer. Just as the crowd was preparing for a historic shootout, Nihat finished up a well-timed run to blast home the 89th minute winner.

There was one final bit of mayhem, one that will hamper Turkey in Friday's quarterfinal. Volkan Demirel earned a stoppage time red card for shoving K oller. Having used up their three subs, Turkey were forced to finish up with a defender in net, comically wearing Volkan's jersey inside-out. Although the Czechs didn't threaten after that, Turkey lose their starting goalkeeper for their next match against Croatia. For the Czechs, it marks the second-straight major tournament where they opened with a win, and then bowed out with two straight losses.

At the same time, Switzerland capped a frustrating nine days on a positive note with a 2-0 win over Portugal. A pair of second half goals by Hakan Yakin led the co-hosts to victory over a Portuguese side resting several top players. With Cristiano Ronaldo, Nuno Gomes, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho all taking the evening off, Portugal will have an advantage for Thursday's quarterfinal, likely against Germany.

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