Germany storm into semi-final with victory over the Greeks
Germany 4-2 Greece
Friday 21 June 2012
Germany stormed into the semi-finals of EURO 2012 with a thumping 4-2 victory over Greece that will almost certainly see them challenge Spain's right to be named favourites to win the title.
Goals from captain Philipp Lahm, Sam Khedira, veteran striker Miroslav Klose and new hero Marco Reus stunned the Greeks in Gdansk as the ruthless Germans romped to victory.
Celtic's Giorgos Samaras did briefly give the battling Greeks hope at 1-1 - and Dimitris Salpingidis scored a late penalty - but the quality of goals scored by Germany suggests they are real contenders to win the tournament.
Germany in fact were on top for almost all of the first half and the only surprise is that they didn't score earlier.
Manager Joachim Low made a big call by leaving out all his usual front three - top scorer Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller - but it didn't seem to affect the team.
He argued his replacements would add pace - and in the case of Miroslav Klose wily experience - to a team that knew it would have to work hard and play clever to break down Greece's stubborn defence.
Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus (who scored 21 goals in 37 games for Borussia Monchengladbach last season) were the other men to benefit from the decision, which also saw Jerome Boateng return from suspension to replace Lars Bender at right-back; changes that gave Germany a fresh, energetic look.
They had a goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger disallowed for offside early on while Sami Khedira twice sent in long-range shots that Michalis Sifakis in the Greece goal struggled to keep out.
Eventually, however, Germany broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when full-back Lahm cut in from the left and curled a superb right-foot shot high into Sifakis' net for 1-0.
Greece responded by bringing on Fotakis and Gekas at half-time and, astonishingly, they were soon level - very much against the run of play.
You can never rule out this incredible team; and they produced a lighting-quick break which saw Dimitris Salpingidis cross low for Samaras to slide home from six yards in the 55th minute.
The stats at the time showed Germany had enjoyed 70 per cent possession and had 17 efforts on goal to Greece's two; but all the same, the scores were level.
The way Germany responded, however, tells you everything you need to know about their chances here. They were behind for only six minutes before Jerome Boateng crossed and Sami Khedira thumped a stunning volley that flashed into the net for 2-1.
Then the experienced Klose rose high above the Greek defence to head home number three after 68 minutes and seal a place in the semi-final - with Reus flashing home another stunning strike for 4-1.
Battling Greece refused to give in and won a late penalty - scored by Salpingidis - to make it 4-2. But this was Germany's night.
Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Reus (Gotze 80), Ozil, Schurrle (Muller 67), Klose (Gomez 79).
Subs not used: Wiese, Gundogan, Schmelzer, Howedes, Podolski, Bender, Mertesacker, Kroos, Zieler.
Coach: Joachim Loew
Greece: Sifakis, Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Tzavelas (Fotakis 46), Makos (, Maniatis, Ninis (Gekas 46), Katsouranis, Samaras, Salpingidis.
Subs not used: Chalkias, Malezas, Liberopoulos, Mitroglou, Fortounis, Fetfatzidis, Tzorvas.
Coach: Fernando Santos
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)