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Penalty shoot-out

Altintop fires jubilant Turks into semi-finals

The line-up for the first semi-final at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland is complete. A day after Germany's thrilling 3-2 victory over Portugal, Turkey defeated Croatia on Friday in the second quarter-final thanks to a 3-1 penalty shoot-out success. The Turks now face the Germans next Wednesday in Basel for a place in the final.

"It was unbelievable. Thinking about what we've achieved in our last three matches, everyone can see we're not yet fully mature as a team, but we're well on the way there. We were ruthless today,“ an overjoyed Hamit Altintop declared at the final whistle as the Turks sealed their first semi-final berth since finishing third at the 2002 World Cup.

Hamit on great form

The 51,428 at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion saw a relatively dour encounter as the Croats favoured a cautious, risk-free approach. With Turkey's attack also out of sorts, the spectators saw little by way of goalmouth action.

Just as in Turkey's dramatic 3-2 victory over the Czechs at the group stage, Altintop was one of the best players on the field with a number of probing passes, although the 25-year-old was unlucky with a 20-yard drive early on. At the other end of the park, Hamburg's Ivica Olic rattled the crossbar from four yards out.

Trio absent for Germany clash

The match finally exploded into life right at the end of extra-time, as Bremen's Ivan Klasnic (119) and Semih (120+2) traded goals to make the final score 1-1 and trigger the dreaded shoot-out. Altintop slotted home his side's third penalty after Modric and Rakitic failed to convert for the Croats, before veteran keeper Rüstü beat out Petric' effort to seal the win.

"If we keep it up and believe in ourselves, a lot could yet happen. Our passion, ambition and willingness compensate for many things. It's very hard to choose tactics against us,“ Altintop reflected. When the Turks face the Germans, they will be without Tuncay, Arda and Emre Asik, who all collected second yellow cards. First-choice keeper Volkan also misses out as he completes a two-match ban.