Turkey made it through to their first UEFA European Championship semi-final at Croatia's expense after a thrilling match in Vienna was decided on penalties after the two sides had swapped goals in the final moments of extra time.
Sensational comebackNervy start
When Ivan Klasnić headed in Luka Modrić's cross with a minute of the overtime period to play, Croatia looked to have booked their place in Wednesday's semi-final against Germany. However, for the third game running, Turkey sensationally hit back at the death to force the first shoot-out of these finals when Semih Şentürk drove in, with the aid of a deflection, from just inside the area. They went on to win 3-1 on penalties after Rüştü Reçber saved Mladen Petrić's kick following earlier misses from Modrić and Ivan Rakitić. Turkey coach Fatih Terim, though, will struggle to get a team together to play Germany with Emre Aşık, Tuncay Şanlı and Arda Turan all suspended along with Volkan Demirel after being booked here.
Terim, without the banned Volkan Demirel and Mehmet Aurélio and with injuries also taking their toll, made four changes from the side that defeated the Czech Republic dramatically to reach the quarter-finals. The 35-year-old Rüştü, who had played against Croatia coach Slaven Bilić at EURO '96™, started in goal, while Bilić reverted to the team that had beaten Germany en route to topping Group B. With so much at stake, both sets of players made nervy starts. On five minutes Turkey right-back Sabri Sarıoğlu's misplaced pass allowed Rakitić to dart to the byline and he pulled the ball back for Darijo Srna whose shot was blocked by Hakan Balta. It was a portent of things to come as Croatia probed with success down both flanks with Terim's reshuffled back line struggling to cope with their slick passing.
For Turkey, Hamit Altıntop flashed an early effort wide and Robert Kovač bravely blocked his free-kick, but Bilić's men were soon in the ascendancy and should have gone ahead on 18 minutes. Croatia fans had descended on Vienna en masse during a baking hot day and they roared as one when Modrić raced clear on the right. His low centre singled out Ivica Olić who crashed a shot off the crossbar before Niko Kranjčar headed the rebound over. Just as against Austria, however, Croatia lost their way when it looked like they were ready to take a stranglehold on proceedings. Turkey began to enjoy more of the possession and though chances were few, Mehmet Topal drew a gasp from the crowd with a 30-metre drive that whistled just wide.
The traffic was soon flowing back towards Rüştü, with Croatia almost given a goal four minutes after the restart. Gökhan Zan's weak header let Olić in and the veteran goalkeeper had to race off his line to get a finger to the striker's headed attempt. Rüştü saved from Kranjčar moments later and then, on 70 minutes, Rakitić fired over after a neat one-two with Olić had given him a clear sight of goal inside the box. Knowing their side's propensity for late goals Turkey supporters grew in confidence as extra time loomed. But as the clocked ticked down Croatia again came close, Rüştü brilliantly tipping away Srna's curling free-kick on 83 minutes, then blocking from Olić.
Having taken the match to added time, Turkey started to show more adventure. Stipe Pletikosa did well to parry after Emre Aşık had skipped through the Croatia defence and the goalkeeper was then grateful to see Tuncay's drive flash wide on 102 minutes. In an incredible climax, Klasnić would head Croatia in front in the final minute – Modrić capitalising on an error by Rüştü to provide the assist – only for Semih to hit back with the last kick of the game. His deflected strike flew past Pletikosa, leaving it to a shoot-out to finally tilt the balance in Turkey's favour.