Turkey 3 Czech Republic 2: Nihat's double shocks Czechs

The three Turkish players who sat a university entrance exam on the morning of this game will never forget yesterday, whether they pass or fail. Their team scored two goals and had their goalkeeper sent off in the most astonishing five minutes of this eventful Euro 2008 to steal a quarter-final place against Croatia from a stunned Czech Republic, who led 2-0 with quarter of an hour to play. Chelsea's Petr Cech made probably his worst mistake of the season to concede an equaliser in the 88th minute to Nihat Kahveci, who then beat him in the last minute for the winning goal.

That climaxed a remarkable recovery by the Turks, who had been outplayed throughout the first half, when the 6ft 7in Jan Koller terrorised them in the air. Supported well by Reading's Marek Matejovsky, who then had to go off injured, Koller headed his 55th goal in 90 internationals and Jaroslav Plasil added a second. The Czechs even hit a post before a revival inspired by Middlesbrough's Tuncay Sanli and abetted by Cech, who dropped a routine cross at Nihat's feet.

It will have been no consolation whatever to him that Cech did not have to face the first penalty shoot-out to decide a group match in either a European Championship or World Cup. That would have been the case in the event of a draw, when both sides would have been equal in every respect. It was a ghastly way to go for the veteran Czech coach Karel Bruckner, who was always going to bow out when his team did, but must have hoped to last until the weekend at least. "We had chances to decide the game but we had problems on the left of our defence," he said. "But to lose such a match was incredible."

His opposite number Fatih Terim tried to sound as if this sort of thing happens all the time, but in reality was equally incredulous. "I've seen many things happen in the last minute," he said. "That's the beauty of the game we call football. I'm very pleased to have a team that doesn't give up."

They briefly appeared to have done so midway through the second half. At one-nil down, central defender Emre Gungor went off injured and before Turkey could bring on a substitute, Koller was allowed clean through a gaping gap down the middle to shoot wide and then Plasil arrived to meet Libor Sionko's fine cross with an equally impressive finish. Terim berated the assistant referee for not having allowed the substitute Emre Asik on, but it was poor concentration by the remaining defenders.

A third goal almost arrived in the 65th minute as the outstanding Sionko, a Rangers player the season before last, crossed for Jan Polak to shoot against a post. That would have killed the game but Turkey somehow kept it alive and then, amazingly, won it. In the 75th minute Arda Turan drove in Hamit Altintop's cross; then Cech's howler from a high centre by the same player in the 87th minute gave Nihat the equaliser and the Turkish captain claimed his second goal by running onto Tuncay's pass, just onside.

There was still time for the volatile goalkeeper Volkan Demirel to be sent off for pushing Koller over, forcing Tuncay to finish the match with the keeper's jersey on – grateful that there was no shoot-out. Volkan will miss the quarter final in Vienna on Friday, as will Mehmet Aurelio, who received a second yellow card of the tournament during the first few minutes, in which the Czechs, semi-finalists in 2004, were soon dominant.

Koller returned in place of Milan Baros, and inevitably became the focal point of their attacks, to far better effect than in his first game against Switzerland. The pattern was set in the first ten seconds, when he was able to nod down a long ball for Matejovsky, who drove it wide. A classic Czech move midway through the first half best illustrated the tactics, Koller chesting a pass to Matejovsky, whose pass allowed Sionko to cut inside and send a shot over the bar.

Both Czech full-backs were also adept at putting over good crosses. So it was not entirely a surprise when the tallest man in the tournament headed his team into the lead. Matejovsky made his last notable contribution by feeding the right-back Zdenek Grygera, whose fine centre was met at full stretch – which is quite a stretch – by the straining Koller. Volkan got a hand to the ball but could only push it onto the bar and in.

Terim made a shrewd change at half-time, taking off the ineffectual Semih Senturk and moving Tuncay, who had been stranded out on the wing, into the centre of midfield. His header gave Cech a first save of the game after 56 minutes. But the real drama would come much later on.

Turkey (4-4-2): Volkan (Fenerbahce); Hamit Altintop (Bayern Munich), Emre Gungor, Servet, Hakan Balta (all Galatasaray); Tuncay (Middlesbrough), Mehmet Aurelio (Fenerbahce), Mehmet Topal (Galatasaray), Arda Turan (Galatasary); Nihat (Villareal), Semih Senturk (Fenerbahce). Substitutes used: Sarioglu (Galatasary) for Senturk, h-t; Kazim-Richards (Fenerbache) for Mehmet Topal, 57; Emre Asik (Galatasaray) for Emre Gungor, 65.

Czech Republic (4-3-2-1): Cech (Chelsea); Grygera (Juventus), Ujfalusi (Fiorentina), Rozehnal (Lazio), Jankulovski (Milan); Matejovsky (Reading), Galasek (Nuremberg), Polak (Anderlecht); Sionko (Copenhagen), Plasil (Osasuna); Koller (Nuremberg). Substitutes used: Jarolim (Hamburg) for Matejovsky, 37; Kadlec (Sparta Prague) for Plasil, 80; Vlcek (Anderlecht) for Sionko, 84.

Referee: P Frojdfeldt (Sweden).

Booked: Turkey Mehmet Topal, Mehmet Aurelio, Turan, Emre Asik; Czech Republic Galasek, Ujfalusi.

Sent off: Turkey Volkan (90).

Man of the match: Sionko.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?