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Leading from the front

Lahm sets Germany on way to semi-finals

Philipp Lahm opened the scoring as Germany booked their place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals with a fully merited 4–2 victory over last eight opponents Greece in Gdansk on Friday night. The left-back’s first goal for his country in more than two years was stunningly cancelled out by Georgios Samaras after the break, but Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus sealed the victory, with Dimitrios Salpingidis netting a late consolation from the spot for the brave but ultimately outclassed Greeks.

Germany boss Joachim Löw sprang a surprise before kick-off by tinkering with the team which had previously cruised through the proverbial Group of Death, leaving out Bayern pair Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez and 100-cap man Lukas Podolski in favour of Reus, Klose and André Schürrle. Jerome Boateng was restored to the side at right-back in place of Lars Bender, who stood in for the suspended FCB defender in the final group match against Denmark.

Germans spurn gilt-edged chances

“It'll be a fight for every inch of ground," Löw predicted beforehand, and despite the Germans’ utter dominance of possession from the off, the coach was proved right in a fiercely contested first half. Klose had the ball in the net after four minutes but was harshly adjudged offside, before Reus squandered three decent chances and Mezut Ozil shot tamely with only the keeper to beat.

The Greeks, patently bent only on parking the bus, very occasionally tried their luck in attack after half an hour of stalemate, and Manuel Neuer was forced to intervene for the first time when Ninis tried his luck from long range. But it was Lahm who finally broke the deadlock six minutes before the interval with a trademark dart inside onto his right foot and a swerving 20-yard finish. Schürrle came within inches of doubling the advantage on the stroke of half-time.