Turkey’s Euro adventure ends with 2-1 loss to the Netherlands

July 6 – The Netherlands came back to beat Turkey 2-1 with two second half goals to silence the cacophonous Turkish support and start a party of their own in the Olympicstadion in Berlin.

The last time this reporter was in this stadium it was in the 1980s for a rock concert in a facility that was overgrown, a little unloved with its uncomfortable past, and in a city surrounded by a wall.

But this magnificent historic stadium is still rocking, but to very different national tunes.

Turkey have had a fairytale run in the Euros to the quarter finals, breaking expectations and ear drums across Germany with a brand of football that though based around a power house of a defense and the unveiling on the big stage one of Europe’s special talents in Arda Guler.

All has been driven on by Turkey’s magnificent and passionate support who wear their hearts high on their sleeves.

The Dutch are not without passion and their orange clad fans are an impressive sight, but they are a team based on technique and a certain aristocratic style that even during their harder times of late, still make them a must watch.

Those hard times look to be taking a turn for the better having won their first appearance in a Euros semi-final since 2004.

Turkey and the Netherlands have played each other 14 times with the Dutch winning six, the Turks five and four drawn. The last time they met was in 2021 in a World Cup qualifier which the Dutch won 6-1, but this is a very different Turkish team.

Talk before the match was of the Grey Wolf salute and Merih Demiral’s suspension for the ultra nationalist gesture. Turkey’s president Recip Erdogan was reportedly in town for the match as the Turks and Germans jousted in their diplomatic posturing.

Come game day that all paled into insignificance as the Turks and the Dutch turned up in a united passion and commitment to the game.

Ronald Koeman started the same 11 as in the quarter final, while Vincenzo Montello brought in Samet Akayadin, Hakan Calhanoglu and Salih Ozcan.

The Dutch opened strongest with their brand of possession football and most incisively with Xavi Simons and Cody Gakpo immediately causing a threat on the left.

Within two minutes Memphis Depay found space on the top of the box and fired over,

Gakpo followed up dragging a shot across the face of Mert Gunok’s goal.

The Turks were combative on the counter and on 10 minutes Stefan de Vrij tangled with and brought down Baris Alper Yilmiz in a foot race towards the Dutch goal, the whole of Turkey screamed for a foul – de Virij was the last man and if it was a foul he had to go – the referee waived play on.

Samet Akaydin opened the scoring for Turkey

Simons curled one over at the other end. Gakpo charged through the middle from his own half and was brought – no foul. If you didn’t give Baris Yilmax his moment you couldn’t give Gakpo his.

Despite their possession the Dutch couldn’t thread their way through the tight lines of the Turkish defence with four banked in front of five like a coiled spring waiting to unleash on the counter.

On the half hour the Turks started to grow in confidence and take the play to the Dutch.

Arda Guler scooped a shot over from the right and became an increasing threat. Kenan Yildiz did the same from the left.

Turkish pressure built with free kicks and a series of corners but the Dutch in Virgil van Dyke, Nathan Ake and de Vrij have a strong heart.

But sometimes hearts break and the Turks, playing with and roared on by the passion that has become such a feature of the Euros, weren’t going to let it be theirs.

On 34 minutes the stadium exploded.

A Turkish corner come out to on the right and was crossed to the back post and the head of central defender Samet Akayadin. It was another goal by another Turkish defensive player, Delmiral’s replacement in more ways than one.

Stefan de Vrij equalised for the Netherlands 

Half time came and the Turks went in a goal up and they were good for it.

The Dutch opened the second half with more menace and Memphis Depay in particular increasing his threat.

On 55 minutes the Turks were almost two up. Guler curled a free kick around the Dutch wall and into Bart Verbruggen’s post.

The Dutch regrouped and went back at the Turks and towards their massed block of orange clad support. Depay wasted a shot when he should have used his support, even so, he will probably get a goal one day.

With half an hour to go the Turks were pinned in their own half by Dutch possession. But possession isn’t goals or even goal chances and the Dutch were guilty of too many passes.

Meanwhile the Turkish fans roared and roared. And roared.

The Turks were not without threat of their own and forced a smart save from Bart Verbruggen followed up by another claim for a penalty, not given.

On 70 minutes Dutch pressure forced a corner. Depay took the corner short, received the ball back and crossed to an unmarked de Vrij who made no mistake in burying his header into Mert Gunok’s goal.

Suddenly it was 1-1 and the tide of emotion was turning away from the Turks.

It was the Dutch turn to lift the roof of the stadium with previously unseen pockets of orange popping up all round the stadium.

Minutes later Depay drove into the box and was sent tumbling, another corner. On 75 minutes the pressure told.

Working the ball to the right flank, Denzel Dumfries drove the ball low across the goal with Gakpo tumbling enough to get a touch on the ball. It was later given as a Mert Mulder own goal. Cue more Dutch celebrations.

For the first time in almost 80 minutes of football the stadium was not shaking to the rhythm of Turkish chanting.

To make things worse for Mulder he was stretchered off as Vincenzo Montella turned to his bench to resupply.

With six minutes to go the Turks found new energy. Guler had a shot tuned away while Muhammed Karem Akturkoglu, on as a sub, had a shot deflected.

It was Ronald Koeman’s turn to work his bench and off came Depay and Xavi, leaving Wout Weghorst to lead the line. Gakpo hammered a shot into Gunot when he could have put the match beyond doubt.

The Turks were now battling for survival. Cenk Tosun sent a diving header over while Akturkoglu sent one wide. The clock ticked into five minutes of added time but for all their desperation their German adventure was coming to an end. But what an adventure it has been.

Meanwhile the Dutch fans bounced their celebrations into the semi-finals against England on Wednesday.

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