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Germany beat comeback kings Turkey to reach Euro final

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, European Championships 25 Jun 2008

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Defender Philipp Lahm's late strike put three-times European champions Germany in Sunday's Euro 2008 final and sealed a 3-2 win to knock out injury-ravaged Turkey on Wednesday night.

Lahm's 90th minute goal made sure Vienna will be Germany's final destination after Turkey's Semih Senturk had forced an equaliser just four minutes from time to make it 2-2 to set up another dramatic finish.

Germany striker Miroslav Klose had nudged his side into the lead on 79 minutes after Bastian Schweinsteiger's first-half goal had cancelled out Ugur Boral's early strike as Turkey had taken a shock lead.

This was Germany's first win over Turkey since May 1992 and Fatih Terim's battered side used their never-say-die spirit forced the Germans to work hard.

“It is an immense happiness that I am feeling,” said 48-year-old Loew.

“That was a battle in which we have expended a lot of energy.

“We weren't very good in the first-half and in the second we weren't that good either, but we gritted our teeth and we wanted the victory.

“The Turks played really well, they chased after the ball a lot and maybe they ran after it very well and we had heavy legs and the heat didn't do us any favours.”

For Terim it was a case of so near but so far.

“I am very sad to have got so close to the final and not made it,” said the 54-year-old, who guided Galatasaray to the UEFA Cup trophy ahead of Arsenal in 2003.

“The players would have deserved it. Unfortunately we have a habit of conceding too many goals too easily. However, the team has honoured the Turkish people.”

Lahm was extremely relieved that he had made up for a glaring error that had led to the Turkish second goal.

“It is one of the most beautiful moments of my career,” said the 24-year-old Bayern Munich star.

“We didn't play well. Turkey believed in themselves and made life difficult for us. We fought for the goal till the end. I should not have committed the error that led to the second goal. That is why I am happy to have helped the team to win the match.”

Having reached Basel's St Jakob-Park semi-final by forging a reputation as the tournament's come-back kings with last-gasp wins over Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Turkey threatened Germany with the same treatment.

Terim had said he wanted to put his team on the map and their battling spirit has reminded the footballing world again what Turkey can do having reached the 2002 World Cup semi-final.

Turkey were without the banned quartet of keeper Volkan Demirel, Middlesbrough's Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan, who scored their last gasp winner against the Swiss, and Emre Asik.

And captain Nihat Kahveci, whose pair of late goals sank the Czech Republic, was missing with a thigh injury.

In contrast, Germany had all 23-men fit and ready to go having responded to their shock 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the group stages by knocking-out much-fancied Portugal with an impressive 3-2 defeat here last Thursday.

Germany coach Joachim Loew played the same line-up and 4-5-1 formation he had used against Portugal for the semi-final, but it was the Turks who dominated the first-half chances with Kazim Kazim driving a shot against the bar on 14 minutes.

And Turkey took a deserved lead when Kazim again hit the cross-bar before Fenerbahce's Ugur Boral fired at Jens Lehmann who watched helplessly as the ball trickled over the line on 22 minutes.

Germany's reply was immediate as attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski slid in a cross which Portugal's tormentor Bastian Schweinsteiger flicked into the net on 26 minutes for his second goal in two games.

Lehmann was in action again as he punched clear Hamit Altintop's free-kick just after the half-hour mark one of nine first-half chances Turkey created compared to Germany's one.

At the break Simon Rolfes made way for Torsten Frings in Germany's midfield and match-winner Lahm was unlucky not to have won a penalty when he was brought down on the edge of the area by Sabri Sarioglu on 52 minutes.

In a much-tighter second half, Turkey kept the pressure on with Altintop bossing the midfield against his Bayern Munich colleagues in Germany's ranks.

But the break through came in the 79th minute when Bayern striker Klose rose above three Turkish defenders and goalkeeper Recber Rustu to score his second goal in two games.

Turkey pulled a late goal out of the bag for the fourth time in succession when Semih slipped marker Per Mertesacker to stab home Sabri Sarioglu's cross on 86 minutes to equalise.

But Lahm put German fans in seventh heaven with his 90th-minute strike to send his side to Vienna.

“It was a very exciting match,” enthused watching German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has followed the team's progress closely.

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