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German joy, Dutch woe

Lahm and Co through but Netherlands crash out

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Sunday brought the first major surprise at EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine as pre-tournament favourites Netherlands crashed out at the group stage. In the final round of Group B matches, the Dutch fell 2-1 to Portugal in Kharkiv and finished on no points at all, but Germany beat Denmark by the same score in Lviv to win the section with a perfect record from their three matches, ahead of the Portuguese on six points.

The 32,990 sell-out crowd in Lviv saw former FCB man Lukas Podolski mark his 100th international with the opening goal on 19 minutes, but Michael Krohn-Dehli levelled just five minutes later. Lars Bender’s first start for his country also featured the 80th-minute winner, sealing Germany’s third win in three group fixtures.

Six Bayern starters

“The team earned this victory. We want to stay in contention right to the end, but it won’t happen automatically,” commented captain Philipp Lahm. Coach Joachim Löw, without Jérôme Boateng due to suspension, nevertheless fielded six Bayern stars in his starting line-up, and again brought on Toni Kroos to shore up the victory before the end.

Once play got underway in the stifling Lviv heat, Thomas Müller could easily have opened the scoring with two early chances, but Podolski showed how it should be done on 19 minutes with a clinical finish after excellent build-up play from Müller and Mario Gomez. However, the Germans were caught napping from a corner on 24 minutes when the outstanding Nikolas Bendtner returned a corner into the box for Krohn-Dehli to level with his head.

Dangerous Danes

Holger Badstuber and Gomez missed good chances in a strong German spell before the break, but Bendtner and Krohn-Dehli kept Löw’s defence busy and the half-time score remained 1-1. Germany controlled possession for long spells after the break without penetrating the superbly disciplined Danish back line, and 67 minutes had been played before sub Andre Schürrle drew a fine save from Denmark keeper Steven Andersen. At the other end, Jakob Poulsen struck the outside of the post on 51 minutes, and Manuel Neuer saved capably from Bendtner with a quarter of an hour to play.