Group of Death delivers as clinical Germany leave Dutch on the brink
Adam Hurrey's crusade to analyse, in excruciating depth, the unique language of football.
Another thrilling day of action at Euro 2012 yesterday saw Germany too good for a disappointing Dutch team while Denmark almost continued their winning run only to go down to a determined Portugal. Our Euro 2012 correspondent Adam Hurrey discusses last night's action.
The Euro 2012 thrill ride continued on Wednesday as Group B played out its second act.
One of German tabloid Bild’s headlines this morning read “Gomezgigantisch!”, a fitting tribute to the striker’s towering performance. Taking the well-established cliché regarding tall players and their close control to the extreme, Gomez’s opener after 24 minutes saw him collect Bastian Schweinsteiger's slide-rule pass with the deftest of first touches before tucking the ball past Stekelenburg. The ever-combative Dutch midfield pairing of Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel tried in vain to contain the orchestration of Schweinsteiger , who provided Gomez with his second goal seven minutes before the break. Another unerring finish from the Bayern Munich striker drew him level with Alan Dzagoev in the race for the Golden Boot, while the Dutch inquests had already begun. Your correspondent, meanwhile, was gleefully reminding himself of the Gomez tips in yesterday’s blog.
Holland coach Bert van Marwijk rang immediate changes,bringing on Huntelaar to partner Robin van Persie, while van der Vaart replaced van Bommel. The out-of-sorts van Persie finally opened his account in the tournament when he halved the deficit with 17 minutes left, but the Dutch had run out of steam. With two defeats, they must now beat Portugal by two goals on Sunday and hope that Germany defeat Denmark.
A forlorn hope, perhaps, after Portugal’s jubilant 3-2victory over the Danes earlier yesterday afternoon. Having gone 2-0 up through goals from Pepe and Helder Postiga, the Portuguese then nearly conspired to throw it all away. Nicklas Bendtner pulled a goal back and, after the misfiring Ronaldo had missed a gilt-edged chance to put the game out of sight, the Arsenal striker nodded in off the post to level the scores. Ronaldo looked crestfallen but, of course, there was another twist in store. With three minutes to go, Fabio Coentrao’s cross found its way to substitute Silvestre Varela, who lashed home his first international goal and sparked what looked like the largest celebratory player pile-up European football has ever witnessed. Ronaldo was deemed by all to be the most relieved man in the stadium, and Portugal can seal a quarter-final berth if they can match Denmark’s result in the final group game.
Meanwhile, my Euro 2012 odyssey has begun in earnest. After a warm welcome in the Polish capital of Warsaw, about which I will blog in more detail on my return there for the quarter-finals, I’m now in Kiev for tomorrow’s Group D clash between England and Sweden at the Olympic Stadium. A comprehensive match preview will be here tomorrow morning, plus a look back at tonight’s Group C games – Italy face Croatia in Poznan, while reigning champions Spain face the Republic of Ireland in Gdansk.
Adam will be covering Euro 2012 for the BettingExpert blog with thanks to our friends at Betfair.
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