Saturday 21 June 2008
Historic strike thrills super-sub Semih
Semih`s goal from a different angle
Turkey fans have an unshakable belief that no match is lost when Semih Şentürk is available to come on from the bench. Having sparked a comeback by scoring against Switzerland, the Fenerbahçe SK forward was at it again last night, firing in a last-second equaliser which paved the way for victory over Croatia on penalties and a first UEFA European Championship semi-final appearance.
The match looked over when Ivan Klasnić headed Croatia in front with barely a minute of extra time to play in Vienna, only for Semih to shatter their hopes with a spectacular leveller which left Slaven Bilić's side emotionally broken for a shoot-out in which they missed three out of four attempts. The 25-year-old, who replaced Mehmet Topal in the 76th minute, told euro2008.com of his strike: "It was a high ball which landed just in front of me. I shot it and, with the help of God, it went into the net. We knew that it would be a tough game because it's only good teams left at this stage, but we're very happy to reach the semi-finals for the first time in our history."
Fellow striker Nihat Kahveci knows all about being the hero too, having scored two goals in the last three minutes to knock out the Czech Republic in Turkey's previous game. The Villarreal CF forward went off injured deep into the additional 30 minutes at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, but was unconcerned with what appeared to be a groin strain. "I congratulate everybody whoever played a role in this great victory," Nihat said. "There's no team which is unbeatable. We believe we can beat anybody because we never give up until the final whistle." Terim will be desperate for good news when Nihat has an MRI scan today, as goalkeeper Volkan Demirel will be suspended for Wednesday's last-four tie against Germany in Basel along with Tuncay Şanlı, Arda Turan and Emre Aşık.
Looking ahead to the fixture against the three-time winners, Sabri Sarıoğlu said: "There will be some important players missing but we believe in each other. All the substitutes are waiting for a chance because we all believe we can fill in for someone else. We want to win the semi and return to Vienna for the final." Forward Kazım Kazım added: "Football is a game which is decided only when the final whistle is blown. We didn't play that well but as a team we don't give up." Germany have been warned.