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Saturday, 06 July 2024 23:34

Netherlands turn it around to book semi-final date with England.

By Emma Sanders.

The Netherlands came back from a goal down to beat Turkey 2-1 in the quarter-final of Euro 2024 on Saturday.

An own goal from Mert Muldur, bundling the ball over his goalline under pressure from Cody Gakpo, meant the Dutch clawed back the lead having trailed at the break.

Centre-back Samet Akaydin had deservedly put Turkey in front when he headed in Arda Guler's dinked cross, capping an impressive first-half display.

He ran over to the Turkey fans, kissed the badge on his shirt and knelt down to pray in front of them, while substitutes sprinted down the touchline.

But their celebrations would not last as the Netherlands, who had a poor first half, responded after the break, buoyed by substitute Wout Weghorst.

They found an equaliser through Stefan de Vrij's header, moments after Weghorst made a crucial interception inside his own box to stop Turkey's Kaan Ayhan getting to a rebound.

Turkey almost doubled their lead when Real Madrid's Guler bent a brilliant free-kick on to the post, but did not capitalise when they had their chances.

It means Ronald Koeman's side will now take on England in Dortmund on Wednesday (20:00 BST) after Gareth Southgate' side beat Switzerland on penalties, with a place in the final against either France or Spain at stake.

Weghorst makes difference for Dutch

Pressure had been building on the Netherlands before their impressive 3-0 win over Romania in the last 16 – but this first-half performance was back to their old ways.

Passive, predictable and vulnerable, they struggled to deal with Turkey’s threat on the counter-attack and did not create anywhere near enough at the other end.

An immediate change was needed with Turkey backed by vociferous support in Berlin, whistling every spell of Netherlands possession and outsinging the usually vibrant Oranje support.

Koeman did not hesitate and was rewarded for his ruthless decision-making, hooking Steven Bergwijn at the break and introducing Weghorst.

The striker had an immediate impact, causing problems with his height in the box, intelligent runs and work-rate in defence.

After taking the lead, the Netherlands had to battle through a rough period with Turkey intent on finding a response which never came.

Goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen denied Kerem Akturkoglu with an excellent save late on, as De Vrij made crucial blocks inside the area.

Unused substitute Bertug Yildirim was sent off for something he said to the officials, and moments later Netherlands players fell to their knees with relief at the full-time whistle, the tournament’s joint-top scorer Gakpo collapsing to the floor in celebration.

But it was Weghorst who took the bulk of admiration from supporters as his inspired second-half performance made all the difference.

Turkey miss chance to reach semis

It is a disappointing end to what has been a brilliant tournament for Turkey.

Overcoming Austria in the last 16 was no mean feat and Turkey threatened to take down a European favourite here in Berlin.

Akaydin's opener capped a perfect first-half performance from Turkey as they wore down the Netherlands, blocking a shot on target and posing a threat on the break.

Aside from a few glimpses of goal from Gakpo and Memphis Depay, the Netherlands offered very little until Weghorst's introduction.

Baris Alper Yilmaz's runs in behind tested Denzel Dumfries, while Guler's trickery and intelligence kept Virgil van Dijk on his toes.

But ultimately Turkey paid for their lack of ruthlessness, with the Netherlands finding a higher gear, while Turkey’s response came too late in the second half.

They put up a strong fight and can be pleased with their performances throughout the tournament, but this was a missed opportunity to reach a third European Championship semi-final.