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Sports

Turkey Triumphs as Upbeat Swiss Leave Euro 2008

Turkey progressed to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 in the most incredible manner Sunday, coming from two goals down to win 3-2 against the Czech Republic while co-hosts Switzerland finally had something to smile about.

Turkish fans waving flags in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood

Turkish fans in Berlin celebrate their team's surprise win

The Swiss team was already eliminated after losing their opening two group matches, but two goals from Hakan Yakin gave them to a 2-0 win over a second-string Portugal side, that was already ensured of finishing top of Group A.

While only pride was at stake in Basle, a place in the last eight was up for grabs in Geneva and for much of the game it looked like the Czechs would be the ones moving to a hotel in Vienna for Friday's quarter-final clash with Slaven Bilic's talented Croatia.

Turkey looked to be dead and buried after goals from Jan Koller and Jaroslav Plasil made it 2-0 to the Czechs but once Arda Turan made it 2-1 with a shot from just inside the area with 15 minutes remaining there was only one side in it.

Last-minute victory

Turkey's Nihat Kahveci (left) scores his side's decisive third goal

Turkey's Nihat Kahveci (left) scores his side's decisive third goal

But despite all their late pressure Fatih Terim's side looked to be heading home when incredibly, with just three minutes remaining, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech inexplicably dropped an innocuous Hamit Altintop cross, which Nihat Kahveci poked home.

Under a new UEFA regulation, a draw would have meant a penalty shoot-out as both teams would have finished the group phase level on points, goal difference and goals scored.

But Nihat ensured an equally sensational finish as the Turkey captain fired home a superb winner in the 89th minute from the edge of the area.

There was even time for Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel to see a red card in stoppage time for a stupid push on Koller.

"We are in the quarter-finals and that is just fantastic," said Terim. "I want to call on everybody to just go and celebrate this victory. They should enjoy what the players gave them. The players will also celebrate, they deserve it."

Hero Nihat admitted his side had been fortunate to make it to the knockout stages in the manner they did.

"We did not play well at all, we were very lucky," he said. "But we never gave up trying and in the end we were rewarded."

Swiss success

Switzerland's Hakan Yakin cheers

Switzerland's Hakan Yakin had reason to cheer

In the night's other match, Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland signed off with a win over Portugal. Luiz Felipe Scolari made eight changes from the team that beat the Czechs in its previous game, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco among those rested.

Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn, in charge of the Swiss team for the last time, finished on a winning note thanks to Hakan Yakin, who netted his first goal from close range on 71 minutes after being set up by Eren Derdiyok.

Switzerland's and Yakin's second came seven minutes from the end when the referee somewhat surprisingly pointed to the spot after Fernando Meira and Tranquilo Barnetta clashed in the area. Yakin made no mistake with the penalty. Portugal win the group with six points from Turkey, who also ended on six points but have an inferior head-to-head record. The Czechs finished third with three points, ahead of the Swiss, who also had three points.

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