Germany wins a thriller

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

BASEL, SWITZERLAND -- Breathtaking. Spectacular. Stunning.

Pick one, all three or use another word. Use 10 words.

They would all be fitting and then some.

The show Germany and Turkey put on yesterday in a Euro 2008 semifinal was the kind of game that will go down in soccer lore.

Germany moved into the Euro final defeating a proud, defiant Turkey squad 3-2. It was a heart-in-your-throat experience.

Germany will play in Vienna on Sunday against either Russia or Spain.

The game was bursting at the seams with emotion, action and drama. It was soccer theatre at its incomparable best.

The throbbing atmosphere sizzled throughout the 90 minutes. There was a constant buzz at St. Jakob Park fuelled by large contingents of German and Turkish fans.

Joy turned to despair turned to joy as the teams punched and counterpunched.

The final 11 minutes were as extraordinary as you'll ever see in soccer.

In the 79th minute, Miroslav Klose stunned Turkey by heading Germany into a 2-1 lead. Turkey's 'keeper, Rustu Recber, made a poor decision on a Philipp Lahm cross and couldn't get to Klose in time.

With 11 minutes left, surely that would be enough. Even the resilient Turks couldn't come back from that.

Anything can happen in this tournament.

Turkey performed what has become a part of their game-day ritual, a game-day miracle. Turkey's Semih Senturk scored yet another massive goal to tie the game at 2-2 in the 86th minute.

Even with the long list of Turkish comebacks during this tournament, Senturk's goal was almost impossible to comprehend.

Turkey did it to the Swiss, the Czechs, the Croats. Could they do it to the Germans?

This time though, it would be the Germans who stole the winner.

Lahm delivered the knockout blow in the 90th minute when he worked his way into the penalty area and stuck a shot into the top of the net.

"It was one of most beautiful moments in my life, getting into the final," said Lahm, who struggled defensively for most of the night. "We're going to celebrate first of all and then prepare for the final."

The last 10 minutes of the match were a swirl of excitement and confusion, a script that, if written, would be considered too unrealistic to be made.

But almost 40,000 people witnessed the unbelievable.

Both German and Turkish players and coaches frequently flew off the benches en masse, living and dying with every kick, every foul called and not called.

Germany's coach Joachim Loew let out a strangled yell at his bench when Turkey yet again penetrated his defence.

Turkish coach Fatih Terim slammed a water bottle on the ground with such force it popped up at least two yards. He was upset Ayham Akman took a shot instead of crossing the ball.

It was fascinating stuff.

"It was an insane battle, incredible tension until the last second," Loew said. "Totally crazy feeling. It was unbelievable. It was a crazy, incredible drama with all these goals in the final minutes."

When the final whistle blew, players were scattered all over the pitch, the detritus of a game that demanded the body and soul of each player.

The ebb and flow of the game's emotional demands sucked everyone dry.

"We knew Turkey would be dangerous in the closing minutes -- they have shown that before this tournament -- but my team were able to come back," Loew said. "In the closing minutes, we were trembling and Turkey never gave up."

In the end, it was Turkey that should feel cheated. It came into the game a weary, short-handed, physically wounded team.

It left with the world's respect.

Turkey was better than Germany yesterday. It would've been easy for Turkey to put seven, eight men behind the ball and refuse to play.

Instead, it did the opposite. Turkey went at Germany. Time and time again, Turkish wingers would romp down the wings, opening up spaces and getting good scoring opportunities.

Turkey scored first in the 22nd minute when Ugur Boral forced the ball behind German 'keeper Jens Lehmann after it came off the crossbar. It was the second time in the game the Turks had hit the bar.

But four minutes later, Bastian Schweinsteiger had equalized.

The emotional roller-coaster ride had begun, one no one will soon forget.


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