A 90th-minute strike from Philipp Lahm sent Germany into the UEFA EURO 2008 final and ended the march of a brave Turkey side who were unable to summon one last dramatic equaliser.
Semih Şentürk had already brought Turkey to the brink of extra time with an 86th-minute strike, yet Lahm's super finish from Thomas Hitzlsperger's pass finally flattened Fatih Terim's team. For once, they had led first, through Uğur Boral's 22nd-minute opener, only for Bastian Schweinsteiger to quickly equalise before Miroslav Klose wrested the initiative 11 minutes from time in an exciting semi-final in Basel.
Christoph Metzelder's early slice from Uğur's cross set the tone. Kazım Kazım broke confidently before Lahm's sloppiness allowed his FC Bayern München team-mate Hamit Altıntop – one of two German-born Turkey starters along with Hakan Balta – a half-chance he scuffed at Jens Lehmann. Terim's men were playing as if they had nothing to lose. From Ayhan Akman's cutback, Kazım smashed against the crossbar. Semih nearly turned in a cross, then a telescopic leg from Per Mertesacker denied Ayhan.
After 17 minutes Germany woke up. Michael Ballack passed to Lahm, met the resulting cross with his head and sparked confusion in the opposition area. The Turkish thoroughbred had already bolted, though, and the first goal went their way after 22 minutes. Sabri Sarıoğlu threw the ball to Ayhan who chested it back, and from Sabri's cross Kazım's imperfect strike looped on to the crossbar – happily for the Crescent Stars an even untidier finish from Uğur burrowed under Lehmann's body.
Semih and Mehmet Aurélio might have doubled the advantage, only for Germany to equalise against the run of play. Lukas Podolski, the left prong in the trident behind Klose, delivered the centre which Schweinsteiger turned in from close range. A Klose call at Turkey's end was then followed by Lehmann having to tip over a Hamit free-kick. In return, Hamit's mistake almost undid a vibrant Turkey when his misplaced pass resulted in Podolski sprinting through but rifling over. Uğur's free-kick, won by the willing Kazım, elicited another Lehmann save.
This was a tough contest for Joachim Löw's team, make no mistake. The forward runs of Kazım, Hamit, Ayhan and Uğur in support of Semih were causing no end of trouble. If green in places because of an absentee list including four injured, four suspended and one half-fit substitute, Turkey were also fresh, energetic and enthusiastic.
Germany began to show the same qualities – Hitzlsperger found his range, Ballack did not after winning a free-kick. The Mannschaft had dominated both games when these sides met at the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland but you would not have guessed it was them, not Turkey, chasing a sixth final appearance and a fourth European title.
Full-back Sabri's right-wing surge went unrewarded, then Uğur warmed Lehmann's hands as Turkey continued to attack through clever use of the flanks. However, it was a long cross from a deeper position from Lahm that looked to have decided the match, goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber failing to reach a ball that Klose headed into the unguarded net.
Turkey had redefined the term plucky underdog with last-gasp goals against Switzerland, Czech Republic and Croatia and duly came again. Sabri was the source, his cross being turned in at the near post by Semih. Extra time loomed, but that was discounting the one-two between Hitzlsperger and Lahm that provided the knockout punch.