Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (2024)

This always promised to be one of the more frenetic nights at Euro 2024 — and Austria vs Turkey did not disappoint.

A dramatic start. which saw Turkey take the lead inside a minute, relentless attacking, a miraculous late save and a feisty atmosphere — occasionally bubbling over into something more sinister — made for a compelling last-16 match. Ultimately, Turkey did enough to secure a quarter-final against the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday night.

Our experts debate the big talking points.

How did Gunok pull off that save?

Turkey are responsible for the worst goalkeeping gaffe of this European Championship so far — and now they’ve made the greatest save of the tournament too.

It was backup goalkeeper Altay Bayindir who made the mistake in allowing a daft own goal in the second group match against Portugal. Here, first-choice Mert Gunok produced an astonishing reflex save from Christoph Baumgartner’s header in the final seconds of the game, leaping full stretch to prevent his goalbound header bouncing into the corner of the net.

UK readers, watch here:

Austria came desperately close to equalising with seconds left on the clock but it was all too late 🫣#Euro2024 | #AUTTUR pic.twitter.com/WMB3jLPM0P

— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 2, 2024

US readers, watch here:

This 95th minute save by Mert Günok was UNREAL 😱🔥

Türkiye fans won't forget this one 🇹🇷 pic.twitter.com/nLzM5Pa8Yy

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2024

Normally it’s the losing team who fall to the floor at the end of a knockout-stage match, but such was the energy they exerted in keeping Austria at bay, it was the Turkish players who, to a man, sank to the turf in relief and exhaustion.

They are certainly surprise quarter-finalists but given they are in the weaker half of the draw, who knows where this momentum can take them — particularly as they are effectively host nation Germany’s second team, such is their level of vociferous support.

Tim Spiers

How were Austria caught cold in record-breaking fashion?

Austria are known for their fast starts (a trademark Ralf Rangnick trait) — they scored in the first 10 minutes of their wins over Poland and the Netherlands during the group stage, while back in March they scored the fastest goal in the history of international football just six seconds into a friendly against Slovakia.

In that same international break, they walloped Turkey 6-1, all of which pointed to there being a decent chance of Austria taking an early lead tonight in Leipzig.

Instead, after just 57 seconds, they contrived to gift Turkey the tie’s opening goal with some slapstick defending.

An inswinging Arda Guler corner directed under the crossbar was missed by Kevin Danso

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (1)

…Baumgartner had drifted back onto the line, but instead of clearing the ball, he allowed it to merely bounce off him.

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (2)

Goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, probably conscious of picking the thing up in case it was deemed a back pass, was feeling equally as dozy and contrived to gently palm it back out into the six-yard box…

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (3)

…no other Austrian reacted in time, so Merih Demiral had no problem slamming a shot into the roof of the net from close range.

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (4)

Three massive individual errors in the space of a second. Austria paid a dear price for not being switched on and now have an unwanted place in history, having conceded the fastest-ever goal in the knockout stage of a European Championship.

It also maintained the strange of early goals at this tournament: four of the six fastest ever scored at a Euros have come this summer.

Fastest goals at European Championships

Scorer

Time

Team

Tournament

Nedim Bajrami

23secs

Albania

Euro 2024

Merih Demiral

57secs

Turkey

Euro 2024

Dmitri Kirichenko

1min 5secs

Russia

Euro 2004

Youri Tielemans

1min 13secs

Belgium

Euro 2024

Emil Forsberg

1min 22secs

Sweden

Euro 2020

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

1min 32secs

Georgia

Euro 2024

Tim Spiers

Players face deluge of missiles

In the second half, there was an issue with supporters throwing plastic cups onto the pitch — not for the first time this tournament.

Before taking his corner that saw Turkey double their lead, Arda Guler had cups launched at him by Austria supporters. After his cross was met by Merih Demiral for his and their second goal, Guler turned to the crowd and cupped his ear.

A waterfall of beer was then aimed in his direction.

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (5)

Arda Guler was pelted with cups (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ten minutes later, Austria’s Marcel Sabitzer went down having been hit on the side of the head by what appeared to be a coin hurled from the stands. This led to Turkey’s Salih Ozcan going over and pleading with his team’s fans to calm down.

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (6)

Marcel Sabitzer seemed to be hit by a coin thrown from the crowd (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Earlier in the tournament, England head coach Gareth Southgate had a handful of plastic cups thrown at him following their drab 0-0 draw with Slovenia in the group stage.

Tom Burrows

Frenetic pace, thrilling chaos

It might be tricky to reliably quantify the speed of a football match, but Austria’s clash with Turkey was arguably the most frenetic start to a game across this tournament so far.

There was Merih Demiral’s goal after 57 seconds, of course, but it wasn’t just the goal that set this game alight. Austria have been the poster boys for high energy and high pressing in this tournament — it’s their thing — but Turkey matched that approach with their own relentless work rate, crashing into early challenges and forcing the Austrians into further mistakes within the opening 20 minutes.

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Turkey were involved in arguably the best game of the group stage against Georgia, which was itself a ferocious contest. Vincenzo Montella’s side brought that same passion to Leipzig tonight, with more action in both boxes after half an hour than in the whole of Monday night’s tie between Portugal and Slovenia (which went to penalties).

Austria beat Turkey 6-1 in a friendly in March, and the opening to this game looked like Turkey had gone full Michael Jordan — they took that personally.

Jordan would have been proud, given that this back-and-forth contest resembled a basketball game at times. It was a breathless start and the pace barely relented after that.

It was chaotic — all the more so in the second half, when the rain started to teem down and Portuguese referee Artur Soares Dias insisted on letting play flow wherever possible — but thrilling as well.

Mark Carey

Guler’s supreme set pieces

Arda Guler, the supremely talented teenager, is hailed as the ‘Turkish Messi’ in his homeland — and his performances so far at Euro 2024 will only add to the hype.

A technically gifted player, with wonderful poise, balance and a deadly left foot, the Real Madrid forward was a constant menace for Austria floating in the middle of a front three. But it was his pinpoint accuracy from corners that was Austria’s undoing. In a frenetic start to the match, Guler whipped in a corner that was bundled home by defender Merih Demiral following comedic Austrian defending after just 57 seconds.

Midway through the first half, Guler produced another glorious chance from a corner that was almost headed home by Demiral for his second of the game, but Turkey’s frustration did not last long. As the clock ticked to the hour mark, Guler swung in another perfect delivery that was again met by Demiral, rising brilliantly in the penalty area, for his second goal of the night.

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There is much more to Guler’s game than just set-piece delivery but it is still a potent weapon for this Turkey team.

Tom Burrows

How Montella defied Rangnick’s press

Expecting Austria to play with the high-pressing, front-footed style that they do, Turkey set up excellently to avoid falling into Ralf Rangnick’s trap.

Their solution? Take no chances and bypass the press with longer balls in build-up. At times when Austria edged forward — ready to pounce when a team-mate triggered the press — Turkey rolled out a drilled ball to Arda Guler between the lines, or to right-back Mert Mulder to contest a header near the touchline.

Just looking at goalkeeper Mert Gunok’s pass map across the whole game, you can see that this was a clear tactic when playing out from the back.

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (7)

What was intelligent about Turkey’s approach was that it allowed them to subsequently mix their passing up. When Austria subsequently sat off, expecting more long balls from Turkey’s deeper players, Vincenzo Montella’s side then calmed their passing down and worked through the thirds with direct, intricate passing.

Austria were less able to effectively implement their style because Turkey didn’t allow them to.

As Turkey progress to the quarter-finals of a European Championship for just the third time, they have shown they can be tactically versatile as well as passion-filled and high-octane.

Variety really is the spice of life for the Turkish.

Mark Carey

What was the reaction?

Ralf Rangnick, Austria manager: “The four games we played were very entertaining, including today. Not everything went very accurately, but they were four very entertaining and intense games. Now we need to take this with us into the Nations League (in the autumn) and then into World Cup qualifying (starting in March). I cannot believe we are going home today, we thought we were going to continue our journey.”

Mert Gunok, Turkey goalkeeper: “We still have a long way to go, if it’s God’s will, we will go to the very end. We believe this. This win took us to the next level in terms of morale and confidence.”

Recommended reading

  • Austria have the style and ethos of a club side – but is that what international football really needs?
  • Arda Guler, the ‘Turkish Messi’ shining at Euro 2024 – and his path to Real Madrid

(Top photo: John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)

Austria 1 Turkey 2: Missiles fall, records tumble - and the save of the tournament? (2024)
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