Back from the dead, Turkey win shootout to grab semis
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Turkey qualified for the Euro 2008 semi-finals for the first time in their history thanks to a victory on a penalty shootout against unlucky Croatia, after both teams scored late in extra-time. (Report: M.MacCarthy)
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Turkey beat Croatia 3-1 on penalties after their nerve-tingling Euro 2008 quarter-final finished 1-1 following extra time on Friday.
Turkey will meet Germany, who beat Portugal 3-2 on Thursday, in the first semi in Basel on Wednesday.
Extra time had finished in dramatic fashion with two goals in the last minute.
Ivan Klasnic headed Croatia in front at the near post after a good run and cross by Luka Modric in the 119th minute.
But there was still time for comeback kings Turkey, who twice rallied from behind to win in the group stages, to equalise in breathtaking style as Semih Senturk scored with the last kick of the game.
Croatia then made a mess of the penalty shootout, with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic missing the target before Turkey's victory was clinched when Rustu Recber saved from Mladen Petric.
Turkey trio Arda Turan, Semih Senturk and Hamit Altintop were all successful with their spot kicks.
"It was indescribable," said Hamit. "If we can keep going like this and believe in ourselves, anything is possible.
"It was good we stayed calm at the end. In the past we weren't able to do that. Today we stayed as cold as ice."
Defeat was rough on Croatia, who overall had the better of the chances with Turkey weakened by a string of injuries plus suspensions to keeper Volkan Demirel and defender Mehmet Aurelio.
Slaven Bilic's Croatia got into their stride early and repeatedly managed to penetrate the Turkish defence.
One such occasion led to the best opportunity of the half in the 19th minute when Modric's low cross found striker Ivica Olic close in but his sliding effort rattled the bar under pressure from keeper Rustu.
Niko Kranjcar then headed the rebound over to the anguish of the Croatian contingent of fans inside the noisy Ernst Happel Stadium, where several flares were lit during the game.
Mehmet Topal sent a 30-metre piledriver just wide towards the end of the first period in a rare effort for the Turks.
Croatia went close at the start of the second half when Gokhan Zan's weak back header let in Olic, who nodded over Rustu but failed to add the finishing touch with two defenders on the line.
Olic had two more chances and Darijo Srna forced Rustu into two saves from free kicks late in the 90 minutes but Turkey hung on to take the game into extra time.
"I want to congratulate both teams for a great game of football," said Bilic. "This match shows why it's the most dramatic and most popular game in the world.
"My players put in a heroic performance and I can have no complaints about any of them. Penalties are a lottery and the players felt confident enough to take the spot kicks."
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