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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkey Stuns Belgium 2-0 to Earn Final 8 Spot




BRUSSELS, Belgium -- With a glorious header and a steely finish, Hakan Sukur led Turkey past Belgium 2-0 Monday to qualify the tournament outsider for the quarterfinal and send the Euro 2000 co-host out of the championship.


It was the first time a host nation did not make it past the first round and Turkey's first-ever win in a European championship.


On the stroke of halftime, Hakan Sukur finally showed why he is Turkey's star, chasing a high-bouncing ball and, with perfect timing, rising above outjumping bumbling Belgian goalie Filip De Wilde to head the ball into the Belgian net. It was his first worthwhile action in Turkey's three Euro 2000 games, but it counted for gold.


"Now we want to get to the semifinal and, perhaps, the final," said Hakan Sukur.


"With his height and his timing, he did us in," Belgian coach Robert Waseige said of the Galatasaray striker.


Turkey will play Portugal in Amsterdam on Saturday with a semifinal place at stake.


Hakan Sukur's header was the coldest of showers on the hottest of nights for the Red Devils fans among the 50,000 crowd in the King Baudouin stadium, and the Turkish players celebrated as if they had already won.


"Now we silenced our critics," said Hakan Sukur.


For Belgium, it only got worse.


Absorbing increasing pressure, Turkey went on a liberating break in the 70th minute from the brink of offside, and Hakan Sukur, showing steely nerves, buried the ball deep in the net past De Wilde.


De Wilde was sent off in the 83rd minute after he torpedoed Arif Erdem into the ground when both were chasing a long ball. Defender Eric Deflandre finished as Belgium's goalkeeper, highlighting a nightmarish end for Belgium.


The Red Devils had enough with a scoreless draw, but they immediately went looking for a goal.


"We started better and didn't deserve to lose," said Waseige.


In the second minute, Bart Goor passed from the left wing into the path of the pacy Emile Mpenza, but the Schalke 04 striker botched his shot instead of passing to the unmarked Luc Nilis in the center.


A minute later, Mpenza got a second shot in, but again it went wide. Turkey was all over the place and in the fifth minute, Nilis ran straight through the defense, but his angled right-foot drive was well saved by Rustu.


In the 14th minute, Belgium again came close when a deflected shot shaved the outside of Rustu's far post. Add another spectacular kick of Marc Wilmots that was blocked and the Red Devils had a half dozen chances in 12 minutes.


It would come to cost them dearly.


Turkey, despite needing a win to stand a chance of advancing, just hung back in defense and played panicky soccer. Up front, the Turks could not stitch together two serious passes.


Hakan Sukur was far too isolated to have an impact on the game early on. Turkey's first counter came in the 21st minute, but the shot from Tugay Kerimoglu was blocked.


Spaces opened up and Nilis almost took advantage in the 30th minute with a 20-meter shot, but it just went wide.


The match became a seesaw battle with both sides creating opportunities.


Hakan Sukur stopped a high ball on the penalty spot, but the onrushing Okan Buruk only got hold of part of the ball and this excellent opportunity also went wide.


In the 36th minute, Arif Erdem was clean through, but De Wilde pulled off a brilliant save, kicking the ball wide with his foot with his body already committed the other way.


After Hakan Sukur had scored, Belgium came looking for the equalizer with even more fervor in the second half.


In the 54th minute Nilis found Mpenza unmarked in the center, but the his whiplash header pulled a stunning reaction save from Rustu. Mpenza had another open header a few minutes later.


But it was not to be Belgium's night, as Hakan Sukur put in his second on the 70th minute to end the scoring.