Wow, what a comeback…

A seemingly-insurmountable deficit.  The team in the lead inexplicably losing their composure, then their lead.  Late-game fireworks on a grand scale.

And I didn’t even mention the winning team’s goalie being kicked out of the game.  Did you think I was talking Lakers-Celtics?  Um… no.

In Euro 2008 soccer today, the Czech Republic led Turkey in an elimination game 2-0 with about 30 minutes to play.  In soccer, this may be a bigger lead than the Lakers had on the Celtics.  It even felt safe when the Czechs hit a goalpost (with the goal open) with 20 minutes to go.

Turkey scored their first goal with 15 minutes to go.

They got their second when the Czech goalie (the “world’s greatest goalie”, some say, and the regular goalie for English side Chelsea) fumbled an easy shot right to the feet of the Turkish captain, who trickled it home (yeah, go write THAT ending and see if you can sell it), with 5 to go.

So it looks like we were heading to a penalty-kick shootout, with the winner moving ahead in the tournament.

Not quite.

Turkey got their third goal, also from their captain, who slipped through a hole in the Czech defense and converted a clear shot on goal (yeah, go write THAT ending and see if you can sell it), with 3 minutes to go.

Soccer has something called “stoppage time”, where extra time is added on the clock to make up for various small stoppages during the game, as the clock never stops during play.

Two minutes into stoppage time, the Turkish goalkeeper shoved a Czech player to the ground in an after-shot “discussion” while the Czechs were frantically trying to equalize.  He was promptly tossed from the game (incidentally, he also gets a suspension from the next game).

Soccer has a rule that ejected players can’t be directly replaced (so Turkey was now playing with just 10 men), and also a limit on substitutions in a game.  Turkey had used all of their substitutions — so not only could Turkey *not* bring on their backup goalie, they had to put a field player in goal.

The Czechs couldn’t take advantage… they didn’t get a shot on the emergency goalie, and Turkey won 3-2, advancing in the Euro 2008 tournament.

If you ever wondered how one becomes a soccer fan — well, this kind of mayhem is just what soccer fans live for.

Let’s see the Lakers and Celtics provide *that* kind of an ending tonight. 🙂


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