Germany complete record-breaking clean sweep
Germany made it three wins out of three as they booked their place in the quarter finals of EURO 2012 courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Denmark. The result sees Joachim Löw's charges become the first German side to maintain an unblemished record during the European Championships group stage as they topped the so-called 'Group of Death'.
It was far from smooth sailing for the three time European Champions with Denmark's disciplined defensive performance proving a tough nut to crack. Lukas Podolski, who became the youngest German international to reach 100 caps, broke the deadlock with a powerful effort before Michael Krohn-Dehli leveled the scores with a well-taken header. However, after an uncomfortable second-half Lars Bender, starting for the suspended Jerome Boateng, was in the right place at the right time to seal the win following a clinical German counter-attack.
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With the Danes content to adopt a reactive approach die Nationalmannschaft wasted little time in assuming control of proceedings as Thomas Müller twice went close to finding the back of the net inside six minutes. The FC Bayern winger missed the target with an early volley, but when Podolski's deflected cross found him unmarked at the back post minutes later the 22-year-old squandered the guilt-edged chance by failing to connect properly with his effort.
Denmark's unwillingness to take risks meant they struggled to create a foothold in the match as Germany showed no signs of relinquishing their grip on the game. Mario Gomez flashed an effort over the bar, but with just under twenty minutes played it was left to Lukas Podolski, making his 100th appearance in a Germany shirt, to open the scoring. Müller managed to break to the byline where he cut the ball back to the 27-year-old who leathered the ball beyond Stephan Andersen with his weaker foot to give Germany a deserved lead.
Danes not done and dusted
However, their joy was short-lived as the Danes equalised less than five minutes later despite having rarely demonstrated any attacking threat. Nicklas Bendtner rose highest at the back post to play a deep corner back into the danger zone where Krohn-Dehli was well-placed to head home past a stranded Manuel Neuer from six yards out.
The goal filled Morten Olsen's side with confidence, but they couldn't impose themselves on the encounter as Germany continued to carve out the better of the goalscoring opportunites. Gomez and Sami Khedira both scuffed half-chances wide either side of Podolski's wayward free-kick, but another goal was not forthcoming as the teams headed in level at the break.
Bender eases late discomfort
The second-half began much as the first had ended, but it was Denmark who went closest to taking the lead early on. Bendtner found Niki Zimling with a deft flick inside the box, but the marauding midfielder could only clip the outside of the post with his first-time attempt. Germany looked far less certain of themselves after the early warning with their usual cutting edge and imagination in the final third rarely on display. As a result Andre Schürrle was introduced off the bench and came close to making an immediate impact on proceedings.
Khedira provided the defence-splitting pass to match the youngsters run, but Schürrle couldn't curl the ball beyond Andersen's outstretched hand. Knowing that a single goal would knock them out of EURO 2012 the nerves began creeping into the German's performance. A distinct lack of creativity stifled their most promising move, while at the other end Neuer was forced to produce saves from Zimling and Bendtner to keep the scores level.
However, all it took was one Germany counter-attack to hand them all three points. Mesut Özil led the charge and found time and space in transition to thread the ball through to Bender, who provided a neat finish at the back post. With the wind knocked out of their sails Denmark couldn't muster up a late response as Germany completed their record-breaking clean sweep in Group B.
Denmark: Andersen - Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, S. Poulsen - Kvist - Eriksen, J. Poulsen (Mikkelsen 82'), Zimling (C. Poulsen 79'), Krohn-Dehli - Bendtner
Germany: Neuer - Bender, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm - Schweinsteiger, Khedira - Müller (Kroos 84'), Özil, Podolski (Schürrle 64') - Gomez (Klose 74')Goals: 1-0 Podolski (19'), 1-1 Krohn-Dehli (24'), 2-1 Bender (83')