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Turkey beat Austria in absorbing Euro 2024 last-16 tie
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Turkey beat Austria in absorbing Euro 2024 last-16 tie

Merih Demiral scored twice - including the quickest knockout-stage goal in European Championship history - as Turkey stunned Austria to set up a quarter-final with the Netherlands.

This was arguably the best game of the tournament so far, a thrilling winner-takes-all tie played in pouring rain at a frenetic pace, with both teams roared forward by their fervent support.

From Demiral’s first goal in the first minute to a stunning save by Turkey goalkeeper Mert Gunok to deny Austria an equaliser in the last, there was barely time for the crowd to draw a breath.

Turkey set the tone for what was to come when they opened the scoring with just 57 seconds on the clock. Arda Guler's corner was not cleared and Demiral pounced from close range to send their fans packed inside Leipzig's Red Bull Arena into raptures.

Just before the hour mark, the same duo combined again. With Austria piling on the pressure, a rare foray forward resulted in another Guler corner that the 6ft 4in centre-back Demiral rose to powerfully head home.

It brought the same deafening response from the stands and sparked wild celebrations on the touchline from Turkey manager Vincenzo Montella and his squad.

There was still work to be done. Austria had not managed a shot on target in the first half but were much improved after the break and pulled a goal back when Stefan Posch flicked on Marcel Sabitzer's corner and substitute Michael Gregoritsch was unmarked to turn the ball home at the far post.

Ralf Rangnick's side, who have won many admirers in Germany for their enterprising high-intensity play, poured forward in search of an equaliser but, whatever they tried, they found the Turkey defence resolute.

Austria are on their way home while Turkey are into their first Euros quarter-final since 2008. Now they head for Berlin, where they face the Dutch at the Olympiastadion on Saturday.

Gunok the hero as Turkey hang on

Turkey have been backed by huge and noisy support in Germany throughout the tournament - and here it was matched by a superb performance on the pitch.

They were able to match Austria's midfield intensity and won countless battles at the back while teenagers Guler and Kenan Yildiz, along with Baris Alper Yilmaz, supplied the quality in attack.

Goalkeeper Gunok was another hero, saving superbly from Marko Arnautovic with the score at 1-0 and, most crucially of all, somehow keeping out a close-range Christoph Baumgartner header in stoppage time.

When the final whistle blew seconds later, it was Gunok who the Turkey team mobbed on his goalline, while their fans danced in jubilation in the stands.

Auf wiedersehen to Austria's hopes

The Turkey fans sang 'auf wiedersehen' at Austria's players as they left the pitch, and their early exit comes as a big surprise after their early form at these Euros.

After topping their group and finishing above France and the Netherlands, expectations were high that could follow that feat by clinching their first knockout win at a major finals since the 1954 World Cup.

Rangnick's side had made a habit of making fast starts, scoring in the first 10 minutes against Poland and the Dutch, but here they were the ones playing catch-up and although Baumgartner twice went close to an almost instant reply, they took time to truly find their stride.

The introduction of Gregoritsch and Alexander Prass at half-time made a difference but Turkey's defensive organisation, viewed as a potential weakness before the game, was almost flawless here.

Austria pumped more and more balls into the area as time ran out but Baumgartner headed two of them just over and, when he did find the target, Gunok reacted superbly to ensure his side held on.

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