Euro 2012: Germany 4–2 Greece: Lahm Leads By Example

Germany cruised to victory over a valiant if limited Greece team to progress to the semi-finals.

Germany cruised to victory over a valiant if limited Greece team. Philipp Lahm, Germany€™s captain, led the way with a swerving strike five minutes before half time. Georgios Samaras equalised for Greece early in the second half, but goals from Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus put the three time European Champions into the ascendency. A late Dimitris Salpigidis penalty could not hide how badly the Greeks were outplayed. The strength of the German squad was illustrated as Jogi Loew made three surprising changes, switching his front three of Podolski, Muller and Gomez for Dortmund€™s Marco Reus, Bayer Leverkusen€™s Andre Schurrle, and Lazio€™s Miroslav Klose. Jerome Boateng returned from suspension, in place of Lars Bender, as Germany dominated from the first minute to the last. Greece replaced suspended captain Giorgis Karagounis with Grigoris Makos, and winger Sotiris Nins was preferred to Fanis Gekas, and save for a ten minute spell after halftime, which ended with Samaras scoring, the Greeks were completely outplayed. No doubt similarities between the gulf in football ability and economic liquidity will fill the papers, but Germany demonstrated exactly why they are so many people€™s favourites. Almost from kick off Germany showed the changes had not disrupted their rhythm and only the linesman€™s flag stopped Schurrle from opening the scoring. Quick, incisive passing threatened to open up the Greek defence on numerous occasions. As Greece settled , the game fell into the expected sequence of Germany attack, Greece defend. Midway through the first half Germany created their best chance, Reus coming inside and laying off to Mesut Ozil, whose left footed effort was too tame. Germany continued on the front foot and Klose was inches from knocking in Schurrle€™s shot come cross. More German efforts rained on goal, Reus wasting a good opening when blasting wide. Greece only threatened on the break, and even then they never dared over commit. Former Man City and current Celtic player Georgios Samaras was having a good game and might, with more belief, made better use of a the rare chances he had to advance with the ball. His dedication to the team effort could not be in doubt, however, as a yellow card for persistent fouling showed. Sifakis, in the Greece goal, was blocking rather than saving any shots he came his way, but there was little he could do to stop Germany€™s captain from opening the scoring. The ball found Lahm in the inside left channel and suddenly space opened up in front of him. He did not need a second invitation, striding forward and hitting a swerving shot from the edge of the area that flew into the far corner of the net. Greece boss Fernando Santos made a double substitution at half time, bringing on striker Gekas and Fotakis for Tzavellas and Ninis. Immediately Greece looked much more of a threat and Gekas gave their attack a focal point, and for the first time in the match the German centre backs had something to think about. This newfound adventure was rewarded when Gekas released Salpigidis on the halfway line who ran and crossed for Samaras to score, despite Manuel Neuer€™s efforts. The flipside to Greece€™s more attacking lineup was that it afforded the Germans more space to attack. Despite conceding Germany continued to press forward and when Jerome Boateng received the ball down the right channel his cross was thumped home by Sami Khedira, who caught out a sleeping Maniatis at the back post. Germany extended their lead after Ozil€™s fancy footwork drew a free kick near the corner flag. He delivered the cross for Klose to nod in from seven yards with Sifakis wafting away in no man€™s land. The keeper redeemed himself to some extent when he kept Klose out moments later. Another save from Klose, after a delightful through ball from Ozil, was followed in emphatically by Reus to make it 4-1 as the scoreline began to reflect the domination of the Germans. Greece were handed a chance to make the scoreline more respectable when Boateng was harshly penalised for handball. Salpigidis scored from the spot, his tireless work getting its just deserts. However there was no arguing with the final result. Greece were thoroughly out played and while they can go home with their heads held high, it is Germany who progress to the semi finals, where they will meet either Italy or England.
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Reporting on football and sports at large since 2007. Written for Channel 5, BT, the PFA, the Football Ramble amongst many, many others.