Football Features

Austria 1-2 Turkey: Merih Demiral at the double as Euro 2024 dark horses crash out

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:00, 2 July 2024 | Updated: 10:36, 5 July 2024

Turkey secured their spot in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over Austria this evening.

Vincenzo Montella’s men also got some payback after enduring a 6-1 defeat to Ralf Rangnick’s side earlier this year.

The final Round of 16 match, played in heavy rain, was the most thrilling, with non-stop action from start to finish. Turkey’s reward is a Saturday last-eight clash against the Netherlands in Berlin.

After their impressive win over the Netherlands to conclude the group phase, many considered Austria as tournament dark horses. They were expected to start strong but immediately found themselves on the back foot.

A corner by Arda Güler was scrambled off the line by Patrick Pentz, but it went straight to Merih Demiral, who smashed it home from close range just 57 seconds into the game.

It was the quickest knockout stage round strike in European Championship history. Interestingly, there were no goals in the first minute of a match in the first 16 editions of the Euros (1960–2020). However, at Euro 2024, two goals have been netted in the opening minute of a match.

Ralf Rangnick’s team experienced déjà vu before the one-hour mark when Güler’s corner was powerfully headed home by Demiral, who became the first Turkish player to score a brace at the Euros since Nihat Kahveci against the Czech Republic in 2008, and the first ever to do so in the knockout rounds.

If the look on Demiral’s face screamed bemusement, then it’s perfectly reasonable, as the centre-back had just two international goals in his first 47 international appearances.

He is also the first defender to score twice in a game at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros) since John Stones for England versus Panama at the 2018 World Cup and the first in the knockout stages since France’s Lilian Thuram against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup semi-finals.

However, as soon as Turkey doubled their lead, Austria pulled one back through substitute Michael Gregoritsch, again from a corner. His effort also turned out to be the 100th goal at Euro 2024.

In fact, this is the first match on record (since 1980) at the European Championship to see as many as three goals come via such set-piece situations.

Austria made a late push and played one last ball into the box. Christoph Baumgartner believed he had scored with his header from seven yards out, but somehow, Mert Günok, in a Gordon Banks-esque style, managed to claw the header wide of the post.

Turkey held on to reach a third European Championship quarter-final. At the same time, Austria recorded an expected goals figure of 2., the most by a team that failed to progress from a European Championship knockout stage tie since France against Switzerland in the Euro 2020 round of 16 (3.1).