‘Banks replica’ – was this ‘one of great saves in Euros history’?

The moment Gordon Banks denied Pele at the 1970 World Cup is known as the ‘save of the century’ – but have we just seen another stop to match it?

This time the scene was played out in the pouring rain of Leipzig rather than the sweltering heat of Guadalajara, but Turkey goalkeeper Mert Gunok’s leap to somehow claw away Christoph Baumgartner’s header will live just as long in the memory of anyone who saw it.

It was a crucial save, too, coming at the very end of a pulsating last-16 tie and denying Austria a last-gasp equaliser their manager Ralf Rangnick felt they fully deserved.

“We didn’t have the necessary luck and I believe if the game had gone to extra time we would have won,” said Rangnick.

“We had time to score an equaliser, but it’s difficult when they have Gordon Banks in goal!”

Banks was also the name on all the pundits’ lips, as they tried to describe Gunok’s save while his team-mates were sprinting to congratulate him when the final whistle was blown seconds later.

“It’s Gordon Banks. Unbelievable. What a moment. The keeper just spins it around the post, it’s a brilliant save,” was former England defender Matthew Upson’s reaction on Radio Five Live.

“That is first class! It’s like a Gordon Banks replica,” said Lee Dixon on ITV.

“That save from Gunok is one of the great saves of Euros history,” was Chris Sutton’s verdict.

‘Baumgartner thought that was in’

Gunok saves from Baumgartner

Getty Images

There have been several dramatic late goals in these Euros – think Jude Bellingham’s brilliant strike for England against Slovakia on Sunday – but this was a save to match any of them, at an identical point of the match.

Turkey were hanging on to a 2-1 lead in the face of relentless late pressure when, in the 94th minute, Austria mounted one last attack.

With the exhausted Turkey defence out on its feet, Baumgartner darted into space at the back post and directed his header downwards, the ball skidding off the wet turf and seemingly heading for the opposite corner… until 35-year-old Gunok found a way of getting across his goal to keep it out.

“How he saves it is unbelievable,” added Sutton, who seemed almost lost for words.

“I cannot think of a better game I’ve seen,” said Upson. “Drama, commitment. Wow, what a game. Baumgartner thought that was in the back of the net. He does everything right.

“Off that greasy surface, he’s done so well. It was Gordon Banks, identical. The Turkish fans are going crazy.”

‘That’s his job, to make saves’

Mert Gunok's 94th-minute save

Reuters

Turkey defender Merih Demiral, who scored twice – including the quickest knockout-stage goal in European Championship history – was named man of the match but paid tribute to Gunok afterwards.

“Mert did a great job, we had a big discussion after the final whistle and I couldn’t believe my eyes – maybe one of the best saves I saw with my own eyes,” Demiral said.

“He deserves it, Mert is the oldest player on the team and has always guided us and shown us the path forward, so I am very happy he made that save.”

Turkey boss Vincenzo Montella was one of the few people not to use superlatives when talking about Gunok’s stop, but he did not downplay its importance for his country’s cause.

“I don’t know, because there have been so many spectacular saves,” Montella said when asked his thoughts on where Gunok’s save ranked in the all-time list.

“I am happy for him, happy for the team, happy for the country and happy for the group we have created here and what we produced out there today.

“Well done to Mert, that is his job, to make saves and we are very happy he made a match-winning save in the last minute.”

The reward for Turkey and their army of devoted fans is a quarter-final against the Netherlands in Berlin on Saturday, and Montella feels anything is possible with their support.

“We have a huge following, there is passion and love,” he explained.

“It is very visceral back home in Turkey so I am very happy to have handed our Turks here in Germany a bit of pride, and across the world.

“This responsibility, love and support we constantly feel it, but you can only embrace these dreams if you work hard from day one – we will celebrate tonight but then we get down to work.”

What information do we collect from this quiz?

‘That might be the best save I’ve ever seen’ – your reaction

Here are a selection of the tweets and messages we received from BBC Sport readers in the moments after the save…

Andy: You can watch football for as long as you want and I don’t think you’ll see a better save than that. Easily up there with the best saves ever. Incredible.

Andrew: Mert Gunok with the perfect Peter Schmeichel tribute act at the death.

JMG: That was an absolutely stunning save. In fact, stunning doesn’t even do it justice. To pull that off in the 95th minute, my word.

Howard: That save was arguably better than Gordon Banks v Pele in 1970… because it was in a winning cause.

Richard: That might be the best save I’ve ever seen. Incredible from Mert.

Steve: The photo of that save by Gunok doesn’t do it justice! Absolutely brilliant. It will probably end up in most top top saves of all time lists in the future!

Jon: I genuinely think that Gunok save is the best I’ve ever seen. Unbelievable!

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