LVIV – Free-flowing and in control, Germany overcame a defensive miscue to defeat Denmark 2-1 and claim their spot in the 2012 Euro Cup knockout stage. After going ahead in the 19th minute on a Lukas Podolski goal, they allowed the Danish to get right back into the game when Michael Krohn-Dehli was left with too much space and headed a shot past Manuel Neuer. However, time and skill were not on the Danish side.
Germany held a huge advantage in possession, 60% to just 40% for Denmark, while the Danish sat back and tried to get out on the counter. An interesting strategy, to say the least, as they were looking at needing a win to secure passage into the knockout stage. That defensive strategy was risky, especially as the Germans have proved they can create goal scoring opportunities any given second.
The Germans repeatedly probed the Danish defense, but they held strong for the most part. Two critical mistakes eliminated them, but they could have been sent packing much sooner. First, Thomas Müller had a wide open chance in front of the goal, but Stephan Andersen came out of nowhere to make a fantastic save to keep the score level. Just ten minutes later though, Padolski, in his 100th cap for Die Mannschaft, would score after two beautiful passes from Müller and Mario Gomez.
Krohn-Dehli struck just moments later when, on a corner kick, Nicklas Bendtner headed a ball back into the middle and MKD headed it right past Neuer. The game would continue on with chances for both sides until a questionable no-call angered Danish fans. Bendtner had gotten around German defender Holger Badstuber and when the cross came in, Badstuber gave a little tug to the back of the jersey, which was just enough to knock him off balance and prevent the Danes from taking the lead. Had a penalty been called, and converted, or the actual play resulted in a goal, Germany would have been eliminated from the competition as Portugal was leading Netherlands 2-1 at that point, and that is how it would finish.
But just minutes later, a fortunate break for the Germans turned into disappointing for the Danes. Mesut Özil was looking for Miroslav Klose on a through ball but put too much pace on the ball and was out of reach for him. However, Lars Bender was running down the opposite side, curled in, and calmly and cooly finished the play with his first international goal, the game winner in the 80th minute.
Germany won all three group games at Euro’s for the first time in their storied history and will be a huge favorite against Greece when they matchup on June 22nd in Gdansk. We will see who Germany head coach Joachim Löw decides to put in his starting XI. With Gomez struggling today and Klose getting back into shape, will he put on one of the most prolific strikers in German history? Will he keep Jérôme Boeteng on the bench in favor of Bender? We’ve got five days to predict what will happen, but for now, the Germans will enjoy the moment and prepare to make a serious run at the Euro 2012 title.