Resilient Germany Beats Turkey at Its Own Game

APPhilipp Lahm rushing toward German teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger after his match-winning goal Wednesday.
VIENNA -- A power outage took out TV pictures being beamed around the world, Vienna's main fan zone was evacuated because of a spectacular thunderstorm, two players had their bloodied heads stitched, and a pro-Tibet demonstrator ran onto the field.

Euro 2008 has been all about the unexpected. Teams heavily favored to reach the final didn't get to the knockout phase, while those supposed to go out early went all the way to the semifinal. The early pace setters such as the Netherlands, Croatia and Portugal are already home, while slow-starting Russia was going strong on behalf of the tournament outsiders. Its semifinal against Spain had not finished by press time.

Germany triumphed 3-2 in the first semifinal, after out-Turkeying Turkey with a 90th minute winner.

The fact that the three-time champion is in the final is no real surprise. But it got there by a meandering route typical of the twists and turns that have made this championship so riveting.

A seesawing game at St. Jakob Park in Basel, Switzerland, could have gone either way right up until the final minute. The Turks went so close to getting there too, having arrived in the semifinals with the reputation for scoring late winning goals: an injury-time winner against Switzerland, three goals in the last 15 minutes to overturn a 2-0 deficit against the Czech Republic and an equalizer in the final minute of extra time before ousting Croatia on penalties.

This time, they went for the German throat straight from the start.

Kazim Kazim twice hit the crossbar and, when the Germans failed to react to his second shot, Ugur Boral got to the ball first for a weak shot that goalkeeper Jens Lehmann failed to keep out.

The Turks aren't used to holding the lead, however and, sure enough, Germany equalized within four minutes.

Lukas Podolski crossed from the left and Bastian Schweinsteiger, in almost a copy of his finish in the 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Portugal, got there first to deftly turn the ball home at the near post with the outside of his right foot.

When Miroslav Klose edged the Germans in front in the 79th, the stage was set for one of those famous Turkey comebacks. When it came, however, millions of viewers around the world didn't see it. The television picture went down before Semih Senturk deflected home a rightwing cross in the 86th minute for the equalizer and a fourth extra-time in a row at this championship loomed.

Philipp Lahm made sure it didn't happen. Minutes after a spectator wearing a tee-shirt carrying the words "Tibet is not China"ran onto the field to be engulfed by security staff, the leftback cut inside, swapped passes with midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, and ran clear of the Turkey defense to shoot home.

Thankfully, the TV pictures had come back in time for Lahm's winner.

The final whistle blew and the Turks' amazing run at these championships was over, while Germany looked forward to its sixth final.

Lukas Podolski conducted the German fans in one of their celebration songs and then jumped over the fence to be among them.

Germany may be in another final, but don't assume anything about Sunday's climax. It's a near certainty that this tournament has more surprises to come.

n Zenit St. Petersburg says it has received an approach from Barcelona for Andrei Arshavin, the BBC reported Thursday.

Russia's playmaker, 27, said earlier this week that playing for Barca, the club he supported as boy, is his "dream."

Barcelona vice president Ferran Soriano said: "We are interested in Arshavin. But it won't be easy to sign him, because all teams want him now."

Barcelona says it has been monitoring Arshavin since earlier this year.

"Our interest isn't sudden since we have been following him with discretion for a few months now," said Soriano, who added that the Spanish giants had first noticed him in April when he played against German side Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup.