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An 80th minute winner from the unlikely source of right back Lars Bender ensured that Germany maintained their 100% record at Euro 2012 and booked their spot opposite Greece in the quarter-finals of the competition courtesy of a 2-1 win against Denmark in Lviv. Germany bossed the first half and were rewarded with a goal for Lukas Podolski in the 19th minute with the Premier League bound striker firing the ball past an excellent Stephan Andersen in goal from around 10 yards. The lead however, lasted just a few minutes as Denmark drew level from a setplay with Michael Krohn-Dehli scoring his second goal of the tournament with a good aerial finish. The quality of play dropped considerably in the second half as Germany tightened their game, and in a period that saw very limited chances, Bender popped up in the right place to stroke the ball home to give the German fans plenty of reason to celebrate. The Germany vs. Greece game will take place on Friday the 22nd of June in Gdansk.
The Germans made a solitary change to the team that took to the field in their first two matches. That too was forced, with the suspended Jerome Boateng making way for young Lars Bender to come in at right back. The formation and positioning of rest of the players remained the same, as Low was happy to retain a side that had done so well in the first two matches.
Denmark also made just the one change to their starting eleven with Dennis Rommedahl parked on the bench due to the injury he sustained in the last game, but surprisingly Jakob Poulsen was chosen ahead of Tobias Mikkelsen. They set up in the 4-1-4-1 formation with the dangerous Christain Eriksen and probably their player of the tournament, Krohn-Dehli playing on the flanks, with Nicklas Bendtner the lone man up-top.
The Germans started off looking pretty much like the team in form. The first quarter of an hour was all Germany except a couple of rather hopeful Bendtner attempts. Germany could have converted their good start into a goal, but Muller's second minute drive was just over. Another German attack followed but Khedira's low cross at the near post was booted clear.Â·And the Germans should have broken the deadlock in the 6th minute. The chance was created from the left side for a third consecutive time, when Ozil put in Podolski whose deflected cross found an unmarked Muller at the far post. However, the Bayern Munich star couldn't put the ball in the back of the net as a diving Stephan Andersen somehow managed to hold on to the ball.
In the 11th minute, Khedira could have found himself one-on-one after a brilliant one-two, only for Agger to intercept with some desperate defending, and not for the last time in the match. A minute later, the in-form Gomez turned at the edge of the box and let fly, only to see his effort go inches above the post.
The goal which Germany's start so richly deserved eventually came in the 19th minute with Lukas Podolski celebrating his 100th cap for the national side with his 44th goal. The goal was made in Munich though with Muller's cross being put into the path of Podolski via Gomez, though inadvertantly. The ball made its way to Podolski, who buried an unstoppable shot past Andersen to put Germany ahead.
Germany's lead though lasted just 6 minutes as Denmark equalised through a brilliantly worked corner routine with Nicklas Bendtner standing very deep in the box and heading a deliberately overhit corner back in the direction from which the ball came, where Krohn-Dehli planted a second header, completely unmarked, past Manuel Neuer from point-blank range.
The rest of the half was once again all Germany with Gomez having two excellent opportunities to add to his goal tally, which he failed to capitalize on. In between Gomez' chances, Thomas Muller won a free-kick on the edge of the box courtesy of a foul by Simon Kjaer, but Podolski fired his effort miles high.
Denmark ended the first half on a positive note by earning another corner, which came to naught, but they kept the ball in the German half and had a couple of pot shots at Neuer's goal, but failed to breach a determined German defence.
The second half started in sharp contrast to the first with Denmark creating the first real chance with Jakob Poulsen unfortunate to see his effort from a Bendtner lay-off smash the outside of the post. That chance appeared to have rattled the Germans briefly, and they opted to play keep ball for the next 15 minutes or so to shore up their defence and ensure that their spot in the quarter-finals was not under threat.
Germany notched up their first shot on goal as late as the 66th minute with substitute Andre Schurrle denied by the strong left hand of Andersen, after the 21-year old was put through on goal.
Niki Zimling and Nicklas Bendtner had a couple of half chances, but news emerging from the other game that Portugal had taken a 2-1 lead against the Netherlands appeared to have knocked the wind out of their sails.
Germany then appeared to have sealed top spot in Group B in the 80th minute when right back Lars Bender turned up in the unlikely position of being the farthest man forward in a swift German counter attack to put his team 2-1 ahead with a tap in across the keeper.
Danish skipper Daniel Agger came close to give his side a lifeline, once again from a swung-in corner, but planted his well won header a foot or so over Manuel Neuer's bar.
There was to be no late drama in this match as Germany comfortably hung on to their lead to reaffirm their status as the team to beat this year, while Denmark made an early exit from the Group of Death.
Germany: Neuer, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ã–zil, MÃ¼ller (Kroos 84'), Bender, Podolski (Schurrle 63'), Gomez (Klose 74')
SUBS: Wiese, Zieler, Schmelzer, HÃ¶wedes, Mertesacker, GÃ¼ndoÄŸan, SchÃ¼rrle, Kroos, GÃ¶tze, Reus, Klose.
Denmark: Andersen, KjÃ¦r, Agger, S.Poulsen, Jacobsen, Kvist, Eriksen, J.Poulsen (Mikkelsen 82'), Zimling (C Poulsen 78'), Krohn-Dehli, Bendtner
SUBS: Lindegaard, Schmeichel, Bjelland, Okore, Wass, C.Poulsen, SchÃ¸ne, Silberbauer, Kahlenberg, Rommedahl, Pedersen, Mikkelsen.
Final Score: Germany 2-1 Denmark (Podolski 19', Krohn-Dehli 25', Bender 80')
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