Germany are in the final of Euro 2008 after a dramatic semi-final against Turkey in Basel. The lead changed hands twice in a nerve-wracking game, and it was left to Philipp Lahm to seal the win with an 89th minute goal.
With extra-time beckoning, Lahm burst through to put Germany into the final
Defender Lahm's late strike put three-times European champions Germany in Sunday's Euro 2008 final and sealed a 3-2 win to knock out injury-ravaged Turkey on Wednesday, June 24.
Lahm's 89th minute goal made sure Vienna will be Germany's final destination after Turkey's Semih Senturk had forced an equalizer just four minutes from time to make it 2-2 to set up another dramatic finish.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose had nudged his side into the lead on 79 minutes after Bastian Schweinsteiger's first-half goal had cancelled out Ugur Boral's early strike as Turkey had taken a shock lead.
This was Germany's first win over Turkey since May 1992 and Fatih Terim's battered side used their never-say-die spirit forced the Germans to work hard.
Having reached Basel's St Jakob-Park semi-final by forging a reputation as the tournament's come-back kings with last-gasp wins over Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Turkey threatened Germany with the same treatment.
Coach Fatih Terim had said he wanted to put his team on the map and their battling spirit has reminded the soccer world again what Turkey can do having reached the 2002 World Cup semi-final.
Turkey were without the banned quartet of keeper Volkan Demirel, Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan who scored their last gasp winner against the Swiss, and Emre Asik.
And captain Nihat Kahveci, whose pair of late goals sank the Czech Republic, was missing with a thigh injury.
In contrast, Germany had all 23-men fit and ready to go having responded to their shock 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the group stages by knocking-out much-fancied Portugal with an impressive 3-2 defeat here last Thursday.
Germany coach Joachim Loew played the same line-up and 4-5-1 formation he had used against Portugal for the semi-final, but it was the Turks who dominated the first-half chances with Kazim Kazim driving a shot against the bar on 14 minutes.
Turkey shock favorites with early lead
Ugur Boral followed up to force the ball over the line
And Turkey took a deserved lead when Kazim again hit the cross-bar before Fenerbahce's Ugur Boral fired at Jens Lehmann who watched helplessly as the ball trickled over the line on 22 minutes.
Germany's reply was immediate as attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski slid in a cross which Portugal's tormentor Bastian Schweinsteiger flicked into the net on 26 minutes for his second goal in two games.
Lehmann was in action again as he punched clear Hamit Altintop's free-kick just after the half-hour mark one of nine first-half chances Turkey created compared to Germany's one.
At the break Simon Rolfes made way for Torsten Frings in Germany's midfield and match-winner Lahm was unlucky not to have won a penalty when he was brought down on the edge of the area by Sabri Sarioglu on 52 minutes.
In a much-tighter second half, Turkey kept the pressure on with Altintop bossing the midfield against his Bayern Munich colleagues in Germany's ranks.
Klose heads Germany towards final...or so he thought
Klose thought he'd won it for Germany with his header
But the break through came in the 79th minute when Bayern striker Klose rose above three Turkish defenders and goalkeeper Recber Rustu to score his second goal in two games.
Turkey pulled a late goal out of the bag for the fourth time in succession when Semih slipped marker Per Mertesacker to stab home Sabri Sarioglu's cross on 86 minutes to equalise.
But Lahm put German fans in seventh heaven with his 90th minute strike to send his side to Vienna.
The win meant that coach Joachim Loew could finally step out of Juergen Klinsmann's shadow by going one better than his predecessor. Loew has now succeeded where Klinsmann failed - he has put Germany in a major tournament final.
Few eyebrows were raised two years ago when Loew, 48, stepped up from being Klinsmann's assistant at the 2006 World Cup after Germany claimed third-place having lost to Italy in the semi-final.
"He was always much more than an assistant coach to me," said Klinsmann about the man he groomed to replace him.
Jogi goes one step further than Klinsi
Loew's tournament started off slowly and under pressure
But despite Loew's side becoming the first side to qualify for Euro 2008, he has spent the last two years laboring under the popular misconception he was simply carrying on his predecessor's 'revolution'.
During his two-year reign, Klinsmann changed the way Germany's national side prepared and moved them away from a defense-orientated style to fast-attacking soccer.
The German media are still obsessed with the ex-Inter Milan striker - reporting with enthusiasm whenever Klinsmann send the team a good luck message - almost two years after leaving his post.
But Loew will now receive recognition in his own right for putting Germany in a final for the first time since the 2002 World Cup.
He has not enjoyed an easy road to Sunday's final.
After his team saw off Poland with a 2-0 win to begin their Euro 2008 campaign in style, Loew was left fuming when his side slumped to a shock 2-1 group stage defeat by Croatia, before they rallied with a 1-0 win over Austria.
He promised to "give each and every player a piece of my mind" after the Croat defeat, but showed his tactical mettle in the quarter-final against Portugal here at the St Jakob-Park stadium.
Portugal win showed spirit
Ballack's header sealed the win against Portugal
Having abandoned Germany's trusted 4-4-2 formation, the Portuguese were blown away as Loew's side romped to a 3-2 win by playing an innovative 4-5-1 formation to book their last four berth.
And as far as defender Per Mertesacker is concerned, Loew has taken Germany to a new level in the last two years.
"I think if you look back on the last two tournaments, we haven't achieved all this by chance," said Werder Bremen's Mertesacker. "I'd put it down to the best possible preparation and we have grown together as a working unit.
"Playing on home turf was a major advantage in 2006, but in 2008 we have matured and had to earn this with no outside help,” he added. "Jurgen Klinsmann has left, his legacy has lived on, but we are in the final by our own rights, not by luck."