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G like Germany, G like Gomez. Leaded by a fantastic Gomez, Germany defeated the Netherlands that are now really close to the elimination and a big upset in the competition.
Gomez has scored his third goal in this Euro Championship to give his country a victory that was clearer than the final score might suggest.
Germany played better than against Portugal and on the other side Holland failed to express a team unity very much needed in order to win.
What should have been the game between the best two teams of the group became something different after the first two stage matches. Germany won despite suffering against Portugal while the Netherlands surprisingly lost again Denmark.
For the Dutch side this, therefore, became a game to win at all costs, for the Germans an opportunity to hypothecate the quarter final.
Both teams started focused, not allowing wide spaced to the opponents.
The first chance came in the seventh minute: captain Mark Van Bommel made a long pass to jump the German’s defence, Robin van Persie started on side but his shot was to weak and central to worry Manuel Neuer. Die Deutsche answered two minutes later with a shot by Mesut Özil, that hit the post and bounced on and was blocked by Maarten Stekelenburg.
The Netherlands controlled the ball for most of the first half but, being unable to bore the German efficient shield, and not wanting to offer the opponents any counter-attacks, often started the actions from behind. Germany, on the other side, tried to wait for good occasions to steam quickly away.
But the goal, in the 24th minute, arrived on one of the first elaborated actions by the German. Bastian Schweinstieger freed Mario Gomez with a brilliant pass, the striker controlled masterly the ball with the right sole and turned on himself before defeating Stekelenburg with the same foot. Beautiful goal for Germany but the Dutch four-players defensive line was guilty of leaving Gomez on-side.
And, with the goal, the situation on the field changed. Germany became even more aware of their strength, played more aggressively , controlled more the ball and defended without too many problems. And they even came really close to the second goal when Holger Badstuber, left all alone by once again an imperfect Dutch defence, hit the goalkepeer instead of the back of net on Özil’s free-kick.
But the goal arrived anyway and it was again Bayern Munich’s Gomez with his third goal in two matches. Gomez received the ball, from Schweinsteiger again, inside the box, on the right, and with a strong and precise shot towards the far post gave Stekelenburg no chance.
The Netherlands, at that point, just tried to survive the first half as the German fans already started to sing “Aufwiedersehen”, goodbye.
Coach Bert van Marwijk caught by the cameras as he was talking to some bench players before the end of the period was the obvious signal of what was going to happen. He needed to change something and put Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart in for Ibrahim Affelay and Van Bommel. A risky formation but at that point there was nothing left to lose and everything to win, starting with the honour and the respect of a betrayed country.
But the two new players did not give the Flying Dutchmen any fair winds, not one bit. And the difficult moment of the Oranjes was stressed when Mats Hummels, a central defender, arrived to the opposite box without any apparent effort and was able to shot twice on target; Stekelenburg, however, was able to save both times.
Like a dazed boxer the Netherlands were unable to create a logic offensive weft. Wesley Sneijder, above all, was completely cut out of the actions and unable to produce useful football for his team. And the team was the problem for Holland, as they did not manage to play as a team and in football seldom the side with more talents win if it is unable to play collectively.
But somehow the Dutch scored. Just after the entrance of Klose, in the 72th minute, the Germans were caught unready and Robin van Persie scored from outside the box, through Badstuber’s legs and on Neuer’s left side. And, with the goal, the momentum obviously changed. The Netherlands pushed more forward, the German players started to miss passes and to look insecure. But it did not last long and the Oranje were not able to concert Germany as, for example, Portugal did at the end of the first game, not even with the help of Dirk Kuyt who took the place of a disappointed Robben.
And it was, on the contrary, Miroslav Klose, eager to show something, who came incredibly close to the goal when he pressured on Stekelenburg but his touch lapsed near the post.
And with no more throes Germany closed the game.
SportsUN Man of the Match: Mario Gomez (GER).
Netherlands 1-2 Germany (0-2 HT)
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE).
Goals: 24 & 38 Gomez, 73 van Persie.
Notes: additional time 1 and 3. Corner kicks: 1-4.
Bookings: 80 N. De Jong, 91 Willelms.