It was a fair run, Turkiye. After producing two of the goals of the tournament and arguably the best match of the tournament so far, giving us a glimpse into a promising future with Arda Güler and Orkun Kökcü, and giving us more Balkan drama, the Netherlands has ended the Turkiye fairytale story.

They didn’t go out without a fight either. After hunkering down and stealing a win against Austria in the quarterfinal, they faced a dominant Netherlands side widely tipped to make a deep run in the final.

It promised to be a good match, especially for a Turkiye squad boasting a lot of attacking talent. Their wide, end-to-end style of soccer hinges on their creative playmakers — Kökcu, Güler, Kenan Yildiz — taking on defenders and creating opportunities with their technical skill, not a particular tactical set-up. They play a very open style of soccer, allowing them to bomb in from the flanks and launch very dangerous attacks, but leaving them exposed to the counter-attack.

Akaydin goal puts Turkiye ahead

We saw an early glimpse of how their impact in transition would play out within the first minute of the game. Memphis Depay got the ball early on the left flank, attacked, dribbled by three defenders, got into the box, and launched a shot flying over the crossbar. Turkiye got the ball, reset their defense, and built up in their usual style; fast and wide.

After some 30ish minutes of back-and-forth soccer and despite their inability to keep the ball, Turkiye found its dramatic opener through Guler. The teenager’s inswinging cross at the edge of the box met a leaping Samet Akaydin at the far post. Akaydin’s header beat a frozen Bart Verbruggen, with all mayhem breaking loose. Dramatic celebrations ensued as Akaydin’s teammates swarmed him. They tackled him and shook him with smiles filled with joy. With the goal, Turkiye had the chance to tie its best performance ever at the Euros — a semifinal appearance.

The Netherlands turned to Wout Weghorst for an attacking spark at halftime. The Hoffenheim striker has come off the bench for most of the Euros — but in his 93 minutes on the pitch, he’s scored a goal, assisted another, and provided the lethality this Netherlands side craves.

He made an instant impact. After Weghorst replaced Steven Bergwijn at halftime and the Dutch began to slow their tempo, they created more chances. Merely minutes after halftime, Weghorst latched on to a Nathan Aké long ball, nodding it to a streaking Depay at the back post. Depay was very unlucky not to reach the ball in time, but it set the tone for the second half — Turkiye desperately clinging onto their one-goal lead, and the Netherlands relentlessly attacking.

Gakpo strike gives the Dutch a lead

Although Güler still had his moments — striking the post with a bouncing, 40-yard free kick — the half was dominated by the Dutch offense. We saw Depay, skillfully evading a pair of Turkish defenders, lofting a cross to Weghorst, whose volley at the six-yard box fell into the side netting. We saw Gakpo, nutmegging a defender and chipping another, fight through a crowded defense to finish off a Xavi Simons chip, denied only by another defender. And finally, we saw the equalizer.

The Dutch got their goal back with Depay lofting a cross into a crowded box. Center-back Stefan de Vrij, surprisingly isolated in a box full of players, towered over the pack. His flicked-on, 10-yard header narrowly squeaked past keeper Mert Günok. Mania erupted at the Dutch end — celebration and joy, but each Dutch player’s face is colored with relief and motivation — happy that they’re now on even terms, but hungry to get another goal with 14 minutes left to go.

And sure enough, they did. Finally, after a second half of chasing Turkiye’s hard-fought lead, the Netherlands found their winner. Denzel Dumfries desperately sprinted onto a through-ball and stabbed another rolling pass to the Dutch’s best player of the tournament, Cody Gakpo. Gakpo stumbled over the ball, shoved by a similarly frantic Turkish defender, but, in the end, his mishit tap was enough to beat Günok. It was a proper example of the duality between win and loss — Depay and Gakpo running together, celebrating in front of rabid, orange-clothed fans while Günok lays prone and exhausted.

Late Turkiye surge not enough

Turkiye does well to fight back against the Netherlands. The flames of Turkish red-and-white licked the well-built Dutch defense, threatening to destroy any semblance of continuity and structure the Netherlands built up through the match.

But, in the end, the Netherlands did just enough to squeak through over Turkiye. Verbruggen put in one of his best saves of the tournament in stoppage time, barely tipping Semih Kiliscoy’s volley away from the net to keep the Dutch’s lead. Then, after Hakan Calhanoglu broke away to set up a one-on-one with Verbruggen, defender Denzel Dumfries repaid the favor by putting an amazing sliding tackle on Calhanoglu to all but seal the game.

The Netherlands will field a full-strength team as they face England, with a finals berth at stake. As for Turkiye, they bow out with one of their best performances at a tournament ever. The seeds of their second golden generation look planted as they set their eyes on a World Cup bid.