I give up. CH12 is retired… till later this evening 🙂 This is the most amazing set of comebacks I have ever seen. It’s not even like there is some superstar dribbling through tons of defenders and bringing them back. Turkey has no Maradona or Zidane or Pele. What they have tons of if “been there, seen that, know what to do”… all gathered over the last week.
Croatia started the game on the backfoot, but had the best chance to score when Olic put a gilt edged cross by Modric onto the crossbar before Kranjcar headed the rebound wide. That should have been 1-0. Of course, Turkey would probably have scored two goals at the end of regulation to beat Croatia in regular time! As it was, Croatia outplayed Turkey in the second half and would have gone ahead but for some excellent keeping by Rustu Recber who recovered from a shaky start. He palmed over a goal bound Srna free kick before blocking a few more Olic opportunities. Olic worked hard, got in position, but was wasteful. Kranjcar was the invisible man before being substituted in the second half and Modric had flashes of creativity while floating in and out of the game.
To extra time, and Turkey suddenly seemed to pick it up again. Maybe Sanli and Turan realized they were not going to have to save anything for the semi finals since they are going to be suspended. Good chances were created, but no goals. So, of course, everything happens in the last three minutes. In the 119th minute, Rustu suddenly went Nikopolidis-walkabout along the goal line and Modric picked up the ball and crossed it for Klasnic to put it into the net behind a scrambling Rustu. Surely this meant the game was over. Key play – it’s 1minute into injury time and Rakitic has the ball. He dribbles past two Turks, looks up, sees two of his teammates breaking in the center circle and launches a through ball. Offside. If only he had continued his dribble, or dropped off a simple lateral pass or even kicked it to the corner. But, no. Rustu grabbed the ball before it rolled to far, set it down and launched a blast that got nodded in some confusion at the top of the Croatian box and dropped for Semih Senturk to turn an unstoppable finish into the top left hand corner. Bilic went crazy asking why there were two minutes of injury time. Whatever.
Whatever the Turks teach their goalies, saving penalties must be one. Of course, Volkan’s deputy was the hero – Rustu saved the final penalty and Croatia put another two wide of the goal. Game over. Croatia is crushed. If only …
For a positive rant. Whatever one may say of the modern pro loving his club more than his country, all you had to do was see Srna sobbing – and he had a great game, and scored his penalty – after the game to know how much international tournaments mean to players. It is so nice to see and reminds us that’s it not about the money when you flash back to why you started playing the game as a kid and the fantasies you had about winning the World Cup for your country.
Big topic over the next few days – will Turkey be able to field even 15 players for the semi final given the suspensions and injuries?
Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0
Result: Croatia 1 Turkey 1 (Turkey wins on penalties)
Scorers: Ivan Klasnic (Croatia) Semih Senturk (Turkey)
To what I believe will be the best football played in the tournament – Russia v Holland…