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Austria 1 Turkey 2: Merih Demiral scores twice to stun Ralf Rangnick’s red-hot side and reach Euro 2024 quarter-final

HIS name echoed around the Red Bull Arena as Leipzig was transformed into Istanbul.

From every Turkish corner, the diaspora chanted: “Arda Guler.”


Merih Demiral scored twice to see Turkey through to the quarter-finals[/caption]

And while Jude Bellingham is the Real Madrid star who has got the world talking, maybe we need to find room for his club-mate too.

Guler may not have scored the goals that took his side through to a last-eight clash with Holland in Berlin.

Centre-back Merih Demiral was the double-goal hero, first cashing on a Keystone Kop first-minute blunder at the back and then soaring to flick home.

But both came from the deadly corner delivery of Guler. 

Still just 19, he is the inspiration, the focus, the totem of his nation, the kid who is making a country dream. 

And it was Guler, more than anybody else in white, who turned out the lights on Ralf Rangnick and his “Wunder team”.

Tough on the Austrians, who had enough chances in both halves.

Yet you have to take them. They didn’t until substitute Michael Gregoritsch netted to give false hope. Turkey did accept theirs. And reaped the reward of a match to remember.


Match Stats

In an atmosphere transferred from the Bosphorus, Turkey went in front after just 57 seconds.

Guler’s inswinging corner caused utter chaos, with panicking Christoph Baumgartner smacking a clearance against team-mate Stefan Posch.

Keeper Patrick Pentz clawed the rebound off the line but Demiral thrashed into the roof of the net before running to the corner to leap, then sinking to his knees in a mixture of delirium and disbelief.

Austria, though, were twice so close to a rapid leveller.

First Baumgartner was a fraction wide of the far upright from 20 yards as he shot back across goal.

Then more defensive befuddlement as Romano Schmid’s corner virtually rolled along the goal line, eluding everybody, with Demiral somehow preventing Baumgartner from making amends.

It was frantic – and fabulous fun, Austria controlling possession but always susceptible as the Turks broke in numbers.

Guler, not scared to try his luck from half-way, is the darling of his nation, another right-wing corner diverted fractionally over the top as Demiral rose highest.

Then Baris Yilmaz embarrassed centre-half Philipp Lienhart after dragging him out to the right but was unable to find the unmarked Guler.

Baumgartner was inches wide from six yards with the last kick before the break, after ex-Manchester United loanee Marcel Sabitzer popped up on the right.

Rangnick needed more from Marko Arnautovic, and his two interval changes saw Gregoritsch join the former Stoke and West Ham striker up top.

Suddenly, it was ALL Austria.

Gregoritsch had two close efforts within a couple of minutes before Arnautovic, played in by Leipzig’s Nicolas Seiwald, failed to squeeze past keeper Mert Gunok.

Austria were now pouring forward, Konrad Laimer scuffing past the post, an offside Arnautovic chipping wide.

But it was Turkey who struck just before the hour mark.

Another inswinging Guler flag-kick, Demiral rising once again, his touch only ever ending in the back of the Austrian net.

Bedlam. Sheer bedlam. Guler’s name reverberating from each rafter.

Austria looked dead and buried but when Sabitzer’s corner was flicked on by Posch for Gregoritsch to side-foot home they had life once again.

Turkey, stretched to near breaking point and dropping to the edge of their box, held on: “La la la la la la la…..Arda Guler!”


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