Turkish delight as Westfalen cranks up the Euro24 volume

June 18 – According to current estimates there are three million people of Turkish origin living in Germany.

At what is perhaps the best football ground in the world, the Westfalen Stadion, it sounded like every single one of them had made the trip to Dortmund to watch their country beat neighbours, Georgia 3-1, in a proper Ottoman derby.

One of the reasons that the Westfalen is so magnificent (the Signal Iduna Park name just doesn’t stick) is because of the acoustics and the noise generated from both sets of supporters which was truly on a different level to anything experienced in this tournament so far, and that included a little skirmish in the a corner that required the presence of some riot police.

As players you couldn’t helped but be inspired by the febrile atmosphere and the game began at a cracking pace, helped by a slick pitch after a torrential downpour 20 minutes before kick-off.

According to FIFA rankings, which should be taken with a pinch of salt, Turkey are 41st in the world while Georgia are 34 places behind in 75th spot, making this match on paper one of the weakest games in the tournament.

Muhammed Kerem Akturkoglu scored Turkey’s third As expected, Turkish coach, Vincenzo Montella sent out his team to dominate possession while his opposite number, Willy Sagnol had his team sit back and wait for the counter-attacking opportunities. It made for an intriguing opening stanza.

On 10 minutes, Turkey’s left winger Kenan Yildiz thought he’d opened the scoring, fizzing a twenty-yarder off the inside of the right-hand post only to see the ball skid agonizingly across the face of the goal.

A minute later Georgia were straight back and created their own opportunity as Anzor Mekvabishvili’s deflected effort seemingly wrong footed Merk Gunok in the Turkish goal, however Gunok managed to sort his feet out and shovel the ball out for a corner for a quite excellent save.

As the clock struck 25 minutes Mert Mulder, the right-back lit the flares smuggled into the stadium by the Turkish fans with an absolute screamer. Ferdi Kadioglu his opposite full-back who had looked the best player on the pitch to date made the goal with great trickery and when his cross fed back to Mulder, the top corner rippled and the Westfalen exploded.

Two minutes later there was another explosion of noise as Arda Guler made a penetrating run down the right-hand side. His cross found Orkon Kokcu who helped it to Yildiz who celebrated like he’d just won the lottery as one became two, but VAR wanted a looksie and Yildiz had just strayed into an offside position. No goal.

With that Georgia could do more than breathe a sigh of relief and, in true footballing fashion, they went straight back down to the other end and equalized.

Giorgi Kochorashvili isolated Yildiz and then turned him into stone before finding Georges Mikautadze who found a small gap at the near post, 1-1.

Gunok will be furious though. As any keeper will tell you, they hate getting beaten at the near post and he should’ve done better with a stronger hand.

Sagnol’s team were now full of confidence and instead of sitting back and soaking up pressure they began to put Turkey on the back foot, which opened up the game.

You could physically feel the disappointment from both sets of fans when the 4th official held up the board with only 1 minute of additional time. The two (three) goals had been celebrated with so much gusto that five minutes would’ve have been justified, but perhaps we all just needed a break because it had been a scintillating half of football.

FIFA rankings be damned.

The second half began in much the same way as the first with Turkey looking for the soft underbelly of Georgia, who were once again looking to play off the counter.

As the rain began to fall in biblical proportions, adding to an already electric atmosphere, Turkey began to camp on top of the Georgian box. With a mass of white shirts surrounding them there was just no way they could get a clean look on goal until the 65th minute and the goal of the tournament to date.

Tsitaishvili was caught with his hand in the cookie jar by Kaan Ayhan and when the ball broke to Guler he cut inside from the right and unleashed a stunning, fizzing, orgasmic curling shot with his left foot into the top corner shaving the inside of the far post. Quite simply WHAT. A. GOAL.

Lift off again and the Turkish fans whipped out their mobile phones, turned on the flashbulbs and made the Westfallen look like a Coldplay concert and a Sky Full of Stars, an amazing sight.

Two minutes later, Georgia were almost back in the game when Kochorashvili pinged a goal bound shot that took a deflection and looped on to the top of the crossbar with Gunok stranded.

With just three minutes left of normal time remaining, second-half substitute Zeki Celik stood up a superb cross to the far post where Yusuf Yazci planted a thumping header to seal the deal, however Giorgi Mamardashvili flung himself across and produced a marvelous stop.

 

With the rain now falling sideways and six minutes of stoppage time on the clock, Georgia opted for the kitchen sink approach and threw everything forward, winning a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left hand side. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia whipped in an inswinger with pace and dip eluding everyone including his own goalkeeper who had ventured upfield, however it the far post. The rebound fell to Davidtashvili who saw his name in the headlines only for Kashia to pull off an incredible block.

Georgia won another corner and Mamardashvili came back to wreak havoc, but a 50/50 ball dropped in Turkeys favor.

Another second-half substitute, Kerem Akturkoglu was off to the races chased by a posse of Georgians but they could not catch him as he passed the ball into the empty net to send the Westfallen into the stratosphere. Game over.

Two hours earlier, there had been no expectations of a thriller but perhaps every game should have a downpour because not only did Turkey and Georgia play out the best game so far, Guler scored the goal of the tournament, and the atmosphere was completely bonkers.

The Westfalen had delivered Turkish delight.

Contact the writer of this story, Nick Webster, at moc.l1721239139labto1721239139ofdlr1721239139owedi1721239139sni@o1721239139fni1721239139