Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 24 News List

Switzerland crash out after late strike

THE PARTY'S OVER Arda Turan's goal in stoppage time gave Turkey a 2-1 victory, dumped the co-hosts out and put Portugal into the quarter-finals as Group A winners

AFP , BASEL, SWITZERLAND

Switzerland's Daniel Gygax jumps over Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel during their Euro 2008 Group A match in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Arda Turan ended Switzerland’s interest in Euro 2008 in heartbreaking fashion by capping a man-of-the-match display with the stoppage time strike that gave Turkey a 2-1 win on Wednesday.

Just as it seemed the co-hosts had done enough to stay alive in the competition, Arda broke clear on the left, cut inside and beat goalkeeper Diego Benaglio from the edge of the area with the help of a cruel deflection off the boot of center-back Patrick Muller.

It was harsh on the Swiss, who were left to count the cost of wasting the chances they had to kill off the Turks long before the dramatic denouement.

“It is a wonderful feeling,” delighted Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. “The players needed this for their confidence and I congratulate them on their incredible effort.”

“This win has given us a lot of confidence for the last game. Today is the begininng of the Euro for us. It was not easy, the conditions were difficult and Switzerland are a very strong team, playing at home. So was an important win,” Fatih said.

Hakan Yakin, one of three players in the Swiss side with family roots in Turkey, had given Jakob Kuhn’s side a first-half lead.

But the veteran playmaker also wasted two glorious chances to claim a second goal for his side, who were pegged back when substitute Semih Senturk headed in an equalizer just before the hour mark.

“It is hard to find the words to say how terribly disappointed we are,” Hakan said.

Swiss boss Jakob Kuhn described his squad’s exit as “painful.”

“The disappointment is huge of course but I can’t criticize anyone. The team played as well as they could and they lost two matches in a rather unfortunate way,” Kuhn said.

Injury had taken its toll on both sides, with the co-hosts deprived of captain and leading goalscorer Alexander Frei and his usual strike partner, Marco Streller, with the result that Hakan was partnered in attack by the 19-year-old Eren Derdiyok.

Turkey were missing regular captain Emre Belozoglu and key defender Gokhan Zan for what was the first meeting between the two countries since their play-off for a place at the last World Cup ended in a mass brawl.

The pre-match suggestions that that was all water under the bridge was belied by the ferocity of the early exchanges, but a torrential downpour drew the sting from the encounter.

It was the Swiss who adapted better to the water-logged surface, thanks largely to the marshaling of Gokhan Inler.

Volkan Demirel did well to keep out Tranquillo Barnetta’s free-kick, before Arda struck the woodwork at the other end, although the Turkish midfielder knew little about it as Diego Benaglio’s punched clearance from rebounded off his head and against the post.

With just over half-an-hour gone, the direct Swiss approach paid off. A Philippe Senderos punt landed in the Turkish box and, with the sodden turf stopping the ball, Derdiyok was able to skip round the out-rushing Volkan and square across the saturated goalmouth for Hakan to tap in at the back post.

Three minutes later, Hakan was guilty of the miss of the tournament after Valon Behrami’s low cross from the right found him in an almost identical position. Astonishingly, the most technically gifted player on the pitch contrived to slice the ball wide from 3m out.

Such a flagrant miss was always like to prove costly and Turkey, who switched to a three-man forward line with the introduction of Semih at the break, capitalized on the let-off 11 minutes into the second half.

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