Magical last-minute save by keeper puts Turkiye in Euro 2024 quarters

Guler with Demiral and the save from Mert Gunok
Guler with Demiral and the save from Mert Gunok (PC: Euro/X)

A miraculous last-minute save by goalkeeper Mert Gunok helped Turkiye overcome Austria 2-1 in a thriller of a round-of-16 contest amid pouring rain in Leipzig. It was the perfect climax in a riveting match between two underrated sides. Turkiye will face the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

Having beaten the Netherlands in their last group match, Austria were slight favourites in this game. But they conceded a silly goal in the opening minute and another 10 minutes into the second half. A goal in the 66th minute brought them back and they thought they had got the equaliser right at the end of regulation time, when Gunok made the save of the competition.

It was a header by an unmarked Christoph Baumgartner from close range which had ‘goal’ written all over. The goalkeeper flung himself full stretch to his right and got just enough of palm on it to keep Turkiye in the competition. His anticipation, reflexes, skills, presence of mind and mental strength to pull it off at such a stage of a knockout match made the effort extraordinary.

It was a dramatic and exciting game right from the word go. Turkiye took the lead in the opening minute when a huge misunderstanding between the Austrian goalkeeper and the defenders following a corner-kick saw Merih Demiral slam the ball home from inside the six-yard box. The Austrians had themselves to blame for it because they let ball lie unattended for a few seconds inside the danger zone without clearing it.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

Moments from Austria vs Turkey clash in Euro 2024
Moments from Austria vs Turkey clash in Euro 2024 (PC: Euro/X)

They went all out for the equaliser and came tantalisingly close in the fifth minute when a cross from the left created confusion inside the rival box. Somehow, the ball didn’t go in despite having the defence at sixes and sevens. Austria mounted a series of attacks and cornered the defenders, but could not open the goalmouth. Turkiye regrouped after about 15 minutes.

It was an even contest for the rest of the first half, with Turkiye showing resilience and good defensive organisation to thwart the Austrian forays. Seconds before the half-time whistle, Baumgartner found himself in a great position, but poked the ball just wide of the post. It completed a frustrating first 45 minutes for his team.

Austria came out attacking in the second half, but Demiral once again dented their chances. A towering presence in his team’s back-line, he rose above the rival defenders following a corner-kick to flick a header past the hapless goalkeeper. Defenders don’t usually score twice in a match and Demiral’s diligence was a highlight of the match.

Austria got one back when Michael Gregoritsch got on the end of a corner-kick and kept his calm under pressure to slot the ball home. His team kept probing and pounding, which led to some frenetic action inside the Turkish half. They defended with numbers and showed great spirit, which was best expressed in that magical save by Gunok in the last minute.

Also Read: Brazil Draw 1-1 with Colombia, Vinicius Jr. to Miss Uruguay Clash