By Jeff Kassouf
Until Friday, most people probably could not name a single game that featured two goals scored after the 118th minute if they were asked to do so. Now, most of the world could probably name one in a heartbeat.
The Euro 2008 quarterfinal thriller between Croatia and Turkey will not only go down as one of the most exhilarating games in recent memory, but also could mean a lot more for the Turks. Clearly, luck is on their side. After staging comebacks against the Swiss and more remarkably the Czechs in group play, Turkey has pulled off quite possibly the greatest comeback in European championship history.
With the 120th minute approaching, the 0-0 deadlock looked like it was destined to go to penalty kicks until an error by Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber lead to a 119th minute goal by Croatia’s Ivan Klasnić , seemingly sealing the Turks’ fate.
However, they gained a second wind in the minimal time that remained. Somehow, stoppage time was added to the end of the second half of extra time, and in the 122nd minute, Semih Şentürk saved the day for the Turks with a last second equalizer.
Possibly still stunned by the emotional ups and downs, the Croatians missed the frame on two of their four penalties, and had the fourth and final one saved to hand Turkey another amazing win. Unfortunately for the Turks, they will be missing a minimum of four players due to suspension, including their left back and work-horse Tuncay Şanlı.
Regardless of these set-backs, it seems as though Turkey has everything going right for them. Their magical run is of the type one would see in a movie: the team that nobody gave a chance; the team that looked dead in the water, coming back to win the grand prize.
This run that Europe and the entire world are witnessing has the makings to be a story for the ages. “The comeback kids” might become the Turks new nickname, this being their third comeback in the competition. Now, all that stands between them and the Euro 2008 finals is Germany. Of course that is a monumental task, but so is trying to tie a game in the 122nd minute.
Who could possibly root against a team with an old, back-up goalkeeper between the pipes and four suspended players that somehow constantly come from behind to win games? I, for one, cannot, and I would venture to say that most of the neutral fans around the world cannot. For all we know, the Turks could come out completely drained against the German’s and lose terribly. Or, they could continue to prove everyone wrong on this amazing run of theirs.
Jeff Kassouf is a staff writer for The New Paltz Times and a freelance writer who covers soccer, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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