Euro 2012 QF: Germany 4 - 2 GreeceSat, Jun 23 2012
In Gdansk on Friday night, Greece exited the Euros following their defeat to Germany as Joachim Low’s side move on to the semi-finals after an impressive performance. Trailing 1-0 at half time, Greece did manage to get back into the game with an equaliser but then they conceded a troika of second half goals before converting a consolation penalty in the final minute.
Germany dominated the game with two thirds of the possession as Greece banked on keeping a clean sheet and trying to hit Germany on the break. The Germans were mostly wasteful with that possession in the first half but were clinical with it in the second half.
It looked like Germany had got off to the dream start when they had the ball in the net after only five minutes. Andre Schurrie bundled the ball over the line after Michalis Sifakis in the Greek goal had spilled Sami Khedira’s shot. However, the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside.
Greece were bailed out on a couple of occasions by their ‘keeper Sifakis who, in difficult conditions on a slippy pitch, managed to keep the Germans at bay. Midway through the half, Marco Reus on his first start in the tournament was involved with a number of German chances. First he set up Mesut Ozil who had his shot saved by Sifakis. From the resulting corner, the goalkeeper pulled off another save this time from Reus and in the next attack Reus really should have found the target when he had lots of time to shoot from the right hand side of the box.
Manuel Neuer in the German goal still needed to be on his toes as the Greeks did create a couple of opportunities even with Georgios Samaras very isolated up front for Greece. When Dimitrios Salpigidis joined the attack, Neuer was able to clear as the PAOK striker tried to latch onto a long ball played over the top. The Bayern Munich netminder then saved a Sotiris Ninis shot on 34 minutes conceding the only Greek corner of the game.
Greece’s resolve held until six minutes before half time when the German captain Philip Lahm broke the deadlock. He took a cross field ball on his chest and cut inside from the left. His right foot strike from outside the area moved through the air and past Sifakis into the back of the net for a German 1-0 lead at half time.
With German Chancellor Angela Merkel looking on, the Greeks did attempt to work their way back into the game. Ferando Santos made a double switch at half time to his Greek line up as he tied to improve his options going forward.
Ten minutes into the second half Greece were level. Salpigidis got free down the right and played a delightful ball into the six yard box to the oncoming Samaras. Neuer valiantly tried to prevent the goal but the Celtic striker’s touch carried the ball over the line for an unlikely equaliser.
With Methel Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger running the show in midfield, the match was only level for a further six minutes. First Khedira scored with a superb volley. They doubled the lead on 68 minutes when Miroslav Klose got his head on the end of an Ozil corner. Reus then got in on the act. Ozil had sent Klose, who had kept Mario Gomez out of the starting line up, in on goal but when his shot was saved the ball fell to Reus. The Moenchengladbach midfielder volleyed the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar for a fine goal.
The Greeks did get one goal back just before the end when Salpigidis converted from the penalty spot after Jerome Boateng handled in the area. But there was to be no bail out for the Greeks, who exit the tournament following a spirited display by the 2004 European Champions. Germany progress and will play in Thursday’s semi-final in Warsaw against either England or Italy.
Germany: Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Mats Hummel, Philip Lahm; Marco Reus (Mario Gotze 80), Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Andre Schurrie (Thomas Muller 68); Miroslav Klose (Mario Gomez 80).
Greece: Michalis Sifakis; Girogos Tzavelas (Giorgas Fotakis 46), Kyriakos Papadopolos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis; Dimitrios Salpigidis Kostass Katsourants, Grigoris Makos (Nikos Liberopoulos 72), Giannis Maniatis, Sotiris Ninis (Theofanis Gekas); Georgios Samaras
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
ExtraTime Man of the Match: Mesut Ozil (Germany)
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter @macdarabueller