Switzerland became the first team eliminated from Euro 2008 last night, losing a half-time lead gained in a violent rainstorm to Turkey, who then won in the last minute of added time with a goal by Arda Turan. The Turks are now neck-and-neck in second place with the Czech Republic, the match between them on Sunday in Geneva deciding who goes through from Group A with Portugal. As they have identical goal-differences, a draw would mean qualificiation being decided by a penalty shoot-out on the night.
It was a commendable contest in the conditions, tense but with few echoes of the teams' infamous battle after the final whistle in Istanbul almost three years ago, which resulted in four players and two officials being suspended. A clutch of political as well as sporting dignitaries present saw nothing worse than four yellow cards in a match well handled by one of the world's best referees, Lubos Michel.
He must have wondered at one stage whether it would be necessary to abandon ship and the game.
As rain fell down almost from kick-off and the ball began to stick and splash, defenders had to clear their lines without ceremony, passes needed to be hit hard and quickly and dribbling was only worthwhile to try and win a free-kick. Set-pieces sent skidding at goal duly produced a chance at each end before the Swiss scored. Tranquillo Barnetta's free-kick was touched round a post by Volkan Demirei, who had just saved from Hakan Yakin to his other side, but the home team's Diego Benaglio was fortunate when he pushed Nihat Kahveci's free-kick straight at the onrushing Arda Turan, from where it hit a post.
In the 32nd minute, Arsenal's Philippe Senderos sensibly took the direct option with a whack downfield that held up in the puddles for Eren Derdiyok, the youngest player in the competition. He veered past the goalkeeper to cross and although the ball got stuck again, Hakan Yakin was able to stab it in. He should have done so again minutes later, but missed from two yards. The new striking partnership replacing Marco Streller, who was less than fully fit, and the unfortunate Alex Frei, meant that with Gokhan Inler in midfield Switzerland had three players of Turkish descent in the side.
Turkey made two changes for the second half, when mercifully the rain stopped, much pitch-forking during the interval having improved conditions a little. Within 12 minutes of the restart, Nihat, moving out to the wing, was able to put in a deep cross and Semih Senturk, one of the two substitutes, lost the Swiss captain Ludovic Magnin to head only his second international goal. With two strikers on, and Middlesbrough's Tuncay Sanli behind them, Turkey's efforts now carried greater conviction. They introduced Colin Kazim Richards, born in Leytonstone, for the last ten minutes and after Volkan saved superbly from Hakan Yakin, Turkey broke out and Arda's fizzing 20 yard drive broke the co-hosts' hearts.
Switzerland (4-4-1-1): Benaglio (Wolfsburg); Lichtsteiner (Lille), Mueller (Lyon), Senderos (Arsenal), Magnin (Stuttgart); Behrami (Lazio), Inler (Udinese), Fernandes (Manchester City), Barnetta (Leverkusen); Hakin Yakin (Young Boys); Derdiyok (FC Basle). Substitutes: Vonlanthen (Salzburg) for Barnetta, 65.
Turkey (4-1-4-1): Volkan (Fenerbahce); Hamit Altintop (Bayern Munich), Emre Asik, Servet Getin, Hakan (all Galatasaray); Mehmet Aurelio (Fenerbahce); Gokdeniz (Rubin Kazan), Tuncay (Middlesbrough) Tumer Metin (Fenerbahce), Arda Turan (Galatasary); Nihat (Villareal). Substitutes: Mehmet Topal (Galatasary) for Tumer, h-t; Semih Senturk (Fenerbahce) for Gokdeniz, h-t.
Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).
Booked: Switzerland Derdiyok; Turkey Tuncay, Aurelio, Hakan.
Man of the match: Volkan.Reuse content