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Dutch Double in Second Half Sinks Turkey, Sets Up Semifinal Clash with England

Berlin, July 07, 2024, The Europe Today: A remarkable turnaround in the second half saw the Netherlands overcome Turkey to secure a place in the Euro 2024 semifinals. The Dutch team will now face England in Dortmund on Wednesday, vying for a spot in the final.

Turkey initially took the lead in the first half through Samet Akaydin, but goals from Stefan de Vrij and an own goal from Mert Müldür propelled Ronald Koeman’s side to victory.

“This is very important and very beautiful, with such a crowd,” said Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk after the game. “We knew there would be a lot of Turks in the stadium, but I’m proud of these guys.”

Turkey midfielder Salih Ozcan, one of several Turkish players born in Germany, acknowledged the critical role of their fans. “We are all emotional, we want to thank our fans, amazing support we got,” the Borussia Dortmund midfielder said. “They carried us from match to match, their support was very important for us.”

The match started at a frantic pace, reflecting the fiery and raucous atmosphere in Berlin. The significant Turkish diaspora in Germany’s capital made it feel like a home tournament for their team, while the enthusiastic Netherlands supporters added to the vibrant setting.

Despite the intensity, neither team managed a shot on target in the first half-hour. The deadlock was broken by a brilliant play from the breakout young player of the tournament, Arda Güler. The 19-year-old skillfully controlled a loose ball with his left foot before delivering a precise cross with his right, which Akaydin headed home at the back post.

Turkey, unlike many more established teams, chose not to sit on their lead, continuing to attack the Dutch defense and occasionally leaving gaps at the back. Their fans, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who watched from the stands despite a recent diplomatic row, spurred them on.

Erdogan’s presence followed controversy over a gesture by Merih Demiral in the previous round, resulting in a two-game ban for the player. Despite this, some fans were seen making the controversial gray wolf salute.

Güler, who has impressed throughout the tournament, nearly doubled Turkey’s lead with a curling free-kick that Netherlands’ goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen managed to tip onto the post.

Every Dutch possession was met with furious whistles from the Turkish supporters, while every Turkish touch was cheered like a goal. Substitute Wout Weghorst missed the Netherlands’ best chance, and their hopes seemed to be dwindling until Stefan de Vrij scored a free header in the 70th minute. Shortly after, Müldür inadvertently bundled home the winner while challenging Cody Gakpo, silencing the Turkish fans.

Turkey came close to equalizing in the final moments but couldn’t find the back of the net. “We are one step closer,” concluded Van Dijk. “We can get to work.”