Merih Demiral scores twice as Turkey advances to Euro 2024 quarterfinals with victory over Austria in frenzied atmosphere

Merih Demiral scored twice as Turkey advanced to the quarterfinals of Euro 2024 thanks to a thrilling 2-1 win over Austria on Tuesday.

The Turkish defender gave his side the perfect start after just 57 seconds, blasting home from close range following some pinball in the Austria box which almost resulted in an own goal.

Demiral got his second of the game when the defender powered a header home shortly before the hour mark.

Just when it seemed Turkey was on its way to the quarterfinals, Michael Gregoritsch halved the deficit to give Austria hope of rescuing the game.

As the rain poured down in Leipzig, Austria had a golden chance to level the scores in added time, but Christoph Baumgartner’s header was brilliantly pushed away to safety by goalkeeper Mert Günok as Turkey held on for a famous victory.

The game was played at a frenzied pace, with both teams known for their high-pressing football and both sets of fans bringing plenty of energy to the Leipzig Stadium.

Turkey will play the Netherlands in the quarterfinal in Berlin on Saturday, July 6.

Demiral celebrates after his second goal against Austria. - Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance/Getty Images
Demiral celebrates after his second goal against Austria. - Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance/Getty Images

Fast-paced action

The atmosphere inside the Leipzig Stadium ahead of kickoff was electric – thanks to the Turkish diaspora in Germany and many Austrians making the short journey over the border – with the pace of the game matching the fervent noise inside the ground.

Turkey was quick to capitalize on that fast start, forcing a corner in the opening minute. Austria struggled to deal with the set piece and although goalkeeper Patrick Pentz flicked the ball away, it was Demiral who pounced to smash his shot into the roof of the net.

Austria looked set to level the scores when Baumgartner came rushing in at the near post with the goal gaping. Somehow Baumgartner was unable to make contact with the ball, instead clashing with the upright.

The first half continued in a breakneck fashion, with 19-year-old Turkey forward Arda Güler attempting an outrageous lob from the halfway line.

Austria came out in the second half with a refreshed sense of purpose and had a golden opportunity to equalize when Marko Arnautović was slipped through on goal but his effort was denied by Günok who spread himself to deny the Austrian captain.

Stefan Posch was the next Austrian player to go close but the defender was unable to get a clean connection with the goal at his mercy.

With Austria seemingly in the ascendancy, Turkey counterpunched to double its lead. Once again, it was 26-year-old Demiral who was the scorer, rising highest from Güler’s corner to get his second of the game.

The goal seemed to have given Turkey a safety net, but Austria halved the deficit seven minutes later, Gregoritsch finishing smartly from a corner to breath new life into the game.

Austria kept pushing and when Baumgartner rose highest with seconds to spare, his header looked like it was heading for the net, but Turkey’s goalkeeper Günok flew to his right to push the ball away and seal Turkey’s spot in the quarterfinals.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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