A look at Euro 2008: Semifinal No. 1

Turkey’s breathtaking and magical run at Euro 2008 finally comes to an end as Germany nets a game-winner in the 90th minute to advance to Sunday’s final.

In case you missed it, here is a brief recap of today’s semifinal contest:

GERMANY 3, TURKEY 2: Left back Philipp Lahm finally put Turkey away for good as he scored with a fantastic finish in the 90th minute to propel Germany to the final of Euro 2008. Just minutes earlier, Lahm’s mistake had led to a Turkish equalizer by Semih Senturk, but he atoned for it with his fabulous strike. Turkey, missing several starters because of injury and suspension, scored first through Ugur Boral in the 22nd minute, but Germany equalized through Bastian Schweinsteiger four minutes later.

MY ANALYSIS: To me, there’s a simple reason for why we’ll look back at Euro 2008 years from now and consider it to be an amazing tournament ‘ Turkey.
OK, several other elements have helped make Euro 2008 the fantastic spectacle that it’s been, but Turkey has been at the heart of so much of it.
Turkey’s brilliant run ended with a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Germany today, but there’s no question in my mind that the courageous Turks have captured the hearts of just about everybody who’s watched them in this tournament.
Two things made Turkey so likeable at Euro 2008. No. 1, they tried to play soccer and No. 2, they kept fighting and fighting and fighting.
Technically, there were superior sides than Turkey, like its semifinal opponent. But the Turks truly emerged as the little team that could. They just kept going and kept going, and while there’s no question they got some outrageous luck along the way, the deserve all the credit in the world for what they accomplished.
As Caroline Cheese pointed out on the BBC, Turkey was Turkey-ed tonight by the Germans, who now march on to Sunday’s final.

TODAY’S STAR MAN: Semih Senturk, Turkey. In the absence of one single standout performer for Germany, I’ll go for this brilliant Turkish striker, who is nicknamed the lifeguard. For four minutes, it indeed looked like Senturk had once again saved the Turks as his 86th minute striker leveled Turkey’s semifinal showdown with Germany. However, Philipp Lahm scored with a fantastic shot in the 90th minute, dashing Senturk’s hopes and the hopes of his country. Still, though, the striker played well from start to finish for Turkey and scored a goal. Not a bad night’s work.

TODAY’S TOP GOAL: Philipp Lahm’s goal vs. Turkey. Germany would’ve happily taken the ugliest goal imaginable to clinch a spot in the Euro 2008 final, but what a sweet strike they got to send them through. From the left flank, Lahm bombs forward, cuts in and passes the ball to Thomas Hitzlsperger. Lahm then makes a good run on the outside behind Turkey’s defense, Hitzlsperger brilliantly plays the ball back to him to complete the give-and-go, and Lahm slams his shot into the back of the net.

Spain vs. Russia, ESPN2, 12:45 p.m.

For those of you who caught today’s action, what did you think of the proceedings? Any disagreements with my choice for player of the day or goal of the day?

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