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EURO Classics: Germany 3-2 Turkey

Turkey's progress to the last four was laced with drama – their semi-final would be no different. Read up on it then sit back and watch on UEFA.tv.

Turkey redefined what it meant to be late for the party at UEFA EURO 2008. They were at it again in the semi-finals but no sooner had they turned up in Basel to seemingly force extra time than the doorbell rang: it was Philipp Lahm.



A minute of madness: Relive Turkey’s 2008 win over Croatia
A minute of madness: Relive Turkey’s 2008 win over Croatia

"Nothing is impossible," reckoned Turkey coach Fatih Terim. "It only takes time." Specifically, at UEFA EURO 2008, the time between the 85th minute and the final whistle. Again and again the Crescent Stars were seemingly killed off, only to rise from the dead. After three increasingly improbable comebacks, they were in the last four – they had led games for a grand total of two minutes.

Football's terminators arrived in Basel for the semi-final suitably decimated, with four suspensions and a medical room full of injuries. Germany were not taking them lightly, though. Joachim Löw's first finals had been slightly underwhelming until now, his side finishing second to Croatia in the group stage and scraping past Portugal in the last eight. This would be tough, make no mistake.

Key players

Philipp Lahm One of the most effective attacking full-backs of his generation, Lahm was 24 at UEFA EURO 2008 but already one of the first names on the teamsheet. He captained Germany to FIFA World Cup glory in 2014, his 113th and final cap.

Watch great Germany EURO goals
Watch great Germany EURO goals

Miroslav Klose A prolific scorer with a strike-rate over his 137-cap international career of better than a goal every other game, Klose was a regular World Cup scorer but had to wait until the 2008 knockouts to break his EURO duck.

Semih Şentürk For so long a second-string striker for Fenerbahçe, Semih found the form of his life in 2007/08 to become the Turkish Süper Lig's top marksman with 17 goals. His reward was a place at UEFA EURO 2008.

What happened

Turkey tore out of the blocks like a team with nothing to lose. Kazım Kazım smashed against the crossbar, Semih nearly turned in a cross, then a telescopic leg from Per Mertesacker denied Ayhan Akman. On 22 minutes the pressure told as Uğur Boral struck.

Bastian Schweinsteiger quickly equalised before Klose wrested the initiative 11 minutes from time. Semih duly did his thing, levelling with the end in sight, only for Lahm to snatch it at the last with a super finish. Even Turkey couldn't come back this time.

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2008
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2008


Joachim Löw, Germany coach: "It didn't always go as we hoped. Turkey varied the tempo well and they are capable of playing fantastic football. We are delighted to survive. We are in the final now and no longer under any pressure."

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor: "I really must say I often had to catch my breath. I heartily congratulate our team."

Uğur Boral, Turkey winger: "We lost but we were the better side. I feel very proud to have been part of such a successful team. Turkish people have to applaud these players."

Gökhan Zan, Turkey defender: "We didn't deserve to lose. If you look at the statistics we had more possession and more shots on goal, but it wasn't much help. We played an excellent game. On one hand we're happy and on the other sad; happy because for the first time we made the semi-final, sad because we lost when we played so well."


EURO 2008 final highlights: Spain 1-0 Germany
EURO 2008 final highlights: Spain 1-0 Germany

The weight of history may have been on Germany's side for the final four days later but not the balance of expectation. The predictions were realised (if closer than many predicted) as Fernando Torres's first-half strike earned Spain a first UEFA European Championship crown in 44 years. The Roja had arrived.

Germany ultimately ended Spain's dominance six years later as a side including three veterans of the UEFA EURO 2008 final, Schweinsteiger, Lahm and Klose, lifted the 2014 World Cup. Löw was the coach then and is still in post, 14 years and counting.