A Tale of Two Halves. Turkish Delight. Bounced Czech. We Don’t Accept Cechs. Let’s Kahveci. Any one of these could be the headline. I choose – ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!!
I have never seen a major international tournament match finish like that. The closest proxy was France vs W. Germany in a World Cup 1982 semifinal when France went two goals up in extra time only for the Germans to pull them both back and win it in penalties. But that went to penalties and the Germans did not score the tying goal with two minutes to go. Yes, the Turks were pressing the whole second half. However, they did fall behind 2-0 against the run of play on a very good finish by Plasil off a Sionko cross. This after Koller blew a breakaway by not backheeling it to his trailing teammate and instead missing the near post with a left foot shot. This before Polak almost made it 3-0 by blasting a pass by Sionko onto the post and getting kicked in the head when he went for the rebound. This game should have been over.
Instead, young Turan scored for the second time in two games to bring it back to 2-1 with 15 minutes to go. CH12 is still feeling good – hey, this is the score I predicted. NOTE TO GAMBLERS – CH12’s predictions are brilliant if you can place bets for the first 88 minutes or so of regulation. All bets are off once we get to the last two minutes of regular time and injury time.
Now here come the Turks. However, when Cetin missed an open header from inside the six yard box to tie it up, I thought that was it. But, no. The second best goalkeeper in the world – Cech is behind Buffon (and probably behind Van der Sar and Casillas at this point) – drops a simple cross (don’t blame the rain – the man has played in England for the last four years!) for Nihat to poke it in and tie it. Well, okay, the Turks deserved the equalizer based on the game so far. Penalty kicks it is. But, no. Nihat makes a brilliant finish off the underside of the bar with Jankulovski trying to play him offside. Looked offside to me. Game over. Unbelievable. But, no. We were then subjected to Volkan pushing Koller, getting a red card and Tuncay having to play goalkeeper since Turkey had used up its substitutes. You can’t make this stuff up. All we needed was for a Czech cross to be spilled by Tuncay, Koller to score and then go to penalty kicks with Tuncay saving the last kick to put Turkey through. Half of Turkey might have suffered fatal heart attacks by then, so it’s good that that didn’t happen.
Turkey is through. They will play Croatia in the quarter finals. Don’t worry about Volkan not being there for the quarter final – he’s better at saving penalties than normal shots. He flubbed two against Sevilla and, while they were tough saves to have to make, should have gotten the second goal after having gotten his hands to both. It’s time for the bench to step up and they have the veteran Rustu Recber, who was so key to their 2002 World Cup run to play between the posts.
I said this was about matchups. Nihat and Tuncay both came through. Turan came through. Koller came through (no Baros). Rozenhal came through. Cetin was so so but by and large did his job against Koller. Sionko was very good. It came down to the keepers and, unfortunately, Cech made the big error.
CH12 must be dyslexic and read the crystal ball backwards. What he meant to say was 3 to 2 would be the score in the Czech/Turkey game and not the Portugal/Switzerland game and vice versa…;) Anyway, that was a fun day. Oh, by the way, the Swiss beat Portugal 2-0 with Yakin scoring both (I did predict they would score two goals!). Thanks for hosting the tournament – we have some nice parting gifts.
Pre-game predictions: Czech Republic 2 Turkey 1, Portugal 3 Switzerland 2
Result: Czech Republic 2 Turkey 3
Scorers: Arda Turan, Nihat Kahveci (2) (Turkey) Jan Koller, Jaroslav Plasil (Czech Republic)
Result: Portugal 0 Switzerland 2
Scorers: Hakan Yakin (2) (Switzerland)
If Germany v Austria provides this kind of drama, we are not going to get to Tuesday alive. BTW, both games have meaning, I believe, since if Austria beats Germany and Poland beats Croatia, Poland and Austria would be in the reckoning for the second spot in Group B. Too bad they can’t then fly to a neutral stadium and have penalties to decide the tiebreaker…