Euro 2012: Day six report
- Wed 13 Jun 2012, 9:45PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
A Mario Gomez double left the Netherlands on the brink of Euro 2012 elimination in Ukraine as the Germans capitalised on a miserable first-half performance from the Dutch to all but secure a place in the last eight.
Meanwhile, Denmark again proved that they’re far from the corpse in this group of death after they fought back from 2-0 down but a late winner from Portugal’s Silvestre Varela denied the Danes a point in a thrilling encounter at Arena Lviv.
Holland 1 – 2 Germany
One of Europe’s most bitter rivalries resumed in Kharkiv and it was Germany who prevailed against a lacklustre Dutch side, thanks to two goals from Mario Gomez.
There was much debate in the Dutch media in the days leading to the game as to whether Van Marwijk would deploy both Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel in defensive midfield or whether he would throw caution to the wind and play Van Persie and Huntelaar up front.
Van Marwijk opted for conservatism, a decision that seemed to backfire as Holland surrendered the initiative to a German side whose attacking overtures had gathered too much momentum before they met the De Jong/Van Bommel shield.
Joachim Löw’s men took the lead through Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez in the 24th minute. Upon receiving a Bastian Schweinsteiger through ball, Gomez pirouetted to leave himself clear on goal and the striker made no mistake, slotting home from close range.
The combination was repeated for the second Germany goal, when Schweinsteiger slid the ball into Gomez’s path before the 26-year old whipped it expertly across the keeper and into the far corner.
Van Marwijk withdrew Van Bommel at half-time, leaving Nigel de Jong to anchor the midfield on his own and the change seemed to do the trick as Holland took the game to Germany.
This renewed attacking approach earned its reward on 73 minutes when Robin van Persie unleashed an unstoppable right-footed drive from the edge of the area to make it 2-1.
With time running out, Holland were unable to carve out a meaningful attempt for the equaliser and it was Germany who celebrated inflicting a painful defeat on their fiercest rivals. The Dutch now need to beat Portugal and hope that Germany put Denmark to the sword.
City Eurowatch - Nigel de Jong: Nigel struggled to get a foothold in the first-half along with the rest of his Dutch colleagues as Germany attacked in well-organised waves. After the break, things improved markedly for Nigel when Van Bommel was withdrawn and he was left to protect the defence on his own.
His key moment came after 75 minutes at 2-1 when Mesut Ozil was played through, the Real Madrid man took a touch to try and get beyond City’s midfielder but Nigel made a well-timed and crucial intervention to deny what would have been a terminal German goal.
De Jong received his first booking of the tournament in the 80th minute for a late challenge on Phillip Lahm.
Portugal 3-2 Denmark
A stinging late volley from Silvestre Varela gave Portugal a dramatic 3-2 victory in this intense Group B encounter as Denmark were unable to repeat their heroics from match day one.
Denmark looked dead and buried on 35 minutes after goals from Pepe and Postiga had put Portugal 2-0 up but a brace of headers from Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner set up an exciting finale.
The match took its time to settle down into any kind of rhythm but when it did it was Portugal who were able to bed down first.
A flurry of set-pieces close to the Denmark goal eventually took their toll on Morten Olsen’s defence in the 24th minute as Real Madrid’s Pepe nipped in front of his marker to power a near-post header into the roof of the net.
10 minutes later, ex-Tottenham striker Helder Postiga doubled their advantage, turning in a Nani cross to become just the sixth player to score in three different European Championship finals. There wasn’t much time to celebrate though, as Bendtner halved the deficit five minutes later.
Cristiano Ronaldo was right in the thick of the action for Portugal after the break, uncharacteristically missing a couple of gilt-edged chances to kill the game and he was so nearly punished for his generosity by a plucky Danish side that for so long refused to accept their fate.
Bendtner was on hand to power home a header from six-yards in the 80th minute to send the throbbing red mass behind the goal into raptures.
The game ebbed and flowed beautifully for the remaining minutes and either team could have snatched the three points but it was the Portuguese substitute Varela who spared Cristiano Ronaldo’s blushes with a thunderbolt from the edge of the box to throw Group B wide open.
David Silva and Mario Balotelli are in action in the next instalment of Euro 2012 action for Spain v Ireland and Italy v Croatia. We’ll be following all of the action live on Twitter and reporting on their performances here on the site.