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Netherlands Overcomes Turkey to Secure Euro 2024 Semifinal Spot

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BERLIN — The Netherlands rallied from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Turkey on Saturday, booking their place in the European Championship semifinals.

An own goal by Turkey’s Mert Muldur in the 76th minute, following Stefan De Vrij’s equalizer, sealed the win for the Dutch. Samet Akaydin had initially put Turkey ahead with a first-half header.

The Netherlands will face England in the second semifinal in Dortmund on Wednesday, while Spain will take on France in the first semifinal on Tuesday.

Turkey played without defender Merih Demiral, who was suspended for two matches by UEFA for making a nationalistic hand gesture after scoring in the 2-1 win over Austria on Tuesday. The gesture is linked to Turkish nationalism and an ultra-nationalist group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the game, having altered his plans due to the diplomatic row with Germany over Demiral’s gesture. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser criticized Demiral for using his celebration as a platform for racism, and Federal Minister Cem Özdemir, a German politician of Turkish descent, condemned the gesture for representing terror and fascism.

Many Turkish fans echoed the gesture on their way to Berlin’s Olympiastadion and during Turkey’s national anthem before the game.

The Dutch began strongly, but Turkey’s defenders effectively neutralized the threats posed by Cody Gakpo, Xavi Simons, and Memphis Depay. Turkey, employing a five-at-the-back formation without the ball, gradually gained momentum.

Akaydin scored in the 35th minute, heading in Arda Guler’s precise cross off the underside of the crossbar. The goal sparked wild celebrations among Turkey’s coaching staff and fans, with flares ignited and fans remaining on their feet.

Turkish supporters outnumbered their orange-clad Dutch counterparts, reflecting Berlin’s large community of Turkish descendants. Germany hosts around 3 million people of Turkish descent, making them the largest ethnic minority in the country, and the Turkish team has enjoyed enthusiastic support throughout Euro 2024.

Despite a chorus of whistles, the Dutch pressed for an equalizer before halftime. Dutch coach Ronald Koeman, a Euro ’88 winner as a player, responded by introducing forward Wout Weghorst for Steven Bergwijn at the break. Weghorst’s presence provided a focal point for Dutch attacks, leading to sustained pressure.

Guler struck the post with a free kick, but the Dutch maintained their offensive. Their efforts were rewarded in the 70th minute when De Vrij headed in Depay’s cross.

Dutch supporters found their voice, and their cheers grew louder six minutes later when Gakpo’s challenge on Muldur resulted in an own goal from Denzel Dumfries’ low cross.

The Netherlands will now prepare to face England in what promises to be an exciting semifinal clash in Dortmund.

Source: AP