zondag 17 juni 2012

Euro 2012 Report - Sunday 17 Juni

Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
Ronaldo double seals fate of Oranje
The 27-year-old scored in both halves to cancel out a superb Rafael van der Vaart strike, condemning the Dutch to a shock exit and securing a date against Czech Republic on Friday

A Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv to send the Oranje out of Euro 2012 and set-up a quarter-final meeting with the Czech Republic.

Rafael van der Vaart broke the deadlock early on with a sumptous curling strike from distance to put Bert van Marwijk's team into the lead. Portugal, however, improved after the opener and despite squandering a barrage of opportunities, Ronaldo would equalise in the 28th minute after a fine assist from Joao Pereira.

With chances at both ends in a competitive second half, the Dutch would come unstuck by the speed of Portugal's counter-attacks, with Ronaldo sealing his double 16 minutes from time to send their opponents crashing to a humiliating exit.

The Dutch, needing to win by at least two clear goals, began the match on the front foot, with Wesley Sneijder firing over the side-netting after a good delivery from Gregory Van der Wiel. Their breakthrough would be an early one.

Arjen Robben retained possession on the wing, cutting in before feeding Van der Vaart. The Tottenham midfielder, from distance, produced a moment of star quality, curling the ball past a beaten Rui Patricio to hand Van Marwijk's men an 11th minute lead.

The setback did much to reinvigorate a Portugal side who had offered very little in the opening stages. Ronaldo raced down the left wing and turned inside Ron Vlaar before smashing a low shot off the post.

The Seleccao would again falter in the final third. An error from Van der Wiel allowed Helder Postiga to escape the attentions of the Netherlands defence, but the striker could not beat Maarten Stekelenburg.

The Portuguese pressure had become unrelenting and eventually their equaliser arrived. A poor pass from Jetro Willems relinquished possession to Joao Pereira who, in turn, threaded a delightful through ball towards Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward subsequently slipped the ball under the goalkeeper to restore parity after 28 minutes and move above Luis Figo in the all-time goals scored list for his country.

After silencing his critics, Ronaldo felt confident enough to attempt the audacious, with a dipping shot from 40 yards forcing Stekelenburg to punch away hurriedly. Later, the 27-year-old headed inches wide from a Joao Moutinho corner to conclude a masterful first half at the Metalist Stadium with the teams locked into a 1-1 draw.

The second half began in cagier fashion. Portugal, however, would be denied by the offside flag after an angled shot from Ronaldo was blocked into the path of Postiga, who turned it in before the referee cut celebrations short.

Van Marwijk altered his side by bringing on Ibrahim Afellay in favour of de Jong, but to no avail. Ronaldo breezed past his marker on the left-wing to set-up Nani, who inexplicably fired straight at Stekelenburg from point blank range.

Another counter would finally come to fruition, as Nani atoned for his miss by setting up Ronaldo with a weighted through ball. The winger turned his marker and fired into the back of the net to seal a quarter-final place.

Van der Vaart would later hit the post from distance and Van Persie wasted a glaring chance before Ronaldo spurned one of his own for a hat-trick, hitting the post as the Netherlands ultimately suffered an untimely elimination from the European Championship.

Germany's win against Denmark means that Portugal finish second in Group B and face the Czech Republic in the first quarter-final in Warsaw on Thursday. The Netherlands head home having lost all three group games.

Denmark 1-2 Germany
Podolski & Bender send Olsen's men home
Joachim Low's men delivered a professional performance to see off the threat of their opponents and comfortably finish top of Group B of the European championship

Podolski - Germany

Germany have booked a Euro 2012 quarter-final date against Greece with a 2-1 victory over Denmark at the Lviv Arena on Sunday.

Joachim Low's men have progressed as winners of Group B and will be joined in the next stage of the competition by Portugal, who defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the concurrent fixture in Kharkiv.

Lukas Podolski marked his 100th cap with the opener after 19 minutes, but Denmark hit back within moments through Michael Krohn-Dehli, who nodded home from close range to send the match into the break all square. 

A lackluster second half saw neither side in any hurry to snatch the initiative, but Lars Bender settled matters with the winner in the 81st minute to confirm the Germans' place in the next round.

Both coaches were forced to make changes to their starting lineups, with Bender replacing the suspended Jerome Boateng for Germany, while Dennis Rommedahl’s injury saw Jakob Poulsen begin for Denmark.

Joachim Low’s men raced out of the blocks, and saw two chances go begging early, both at the feet of Thomas Muller. The Bayern Munich man’s indifferent form in front of goal continued, first firing over the bar from 15 yards out before somehow failing to put away a cross by Podolski from point-blank range.

However, Muller would make his presence felt in other ways later on as he played a key part in helping Mario Gomez find Podolski in the penalty area, who in turn smashed home to give Germany the lead after 19 minutes.

But Denmark would respond just before the half-hour mark. Lars Jacobsen’s deep corner was powered towards goal by Nicklas Bendtner, where Krohn-Dehli was waiting to head home the equaliser.

The match remained finely poised as the half wore on, though Germany’s greater enterprise in the attacking third meant that they always appeared the more likely to score again. Podolski crashed a 20-yard free-kick inches over the bar before Sami Khedira poked inches wide after attacking his own blocked shot.

Denmark had managed to escape the first half on terms, but then created a fantastic opportunity to take the lead five minutes after the restart.

Simon Poulsen’s pace on the left saw him slide towards Bendtner, who in turn teed up Jakob Poulsen, but the Midtjylland midfielder could only brush his shot off the outside of post.

The match settled into lull as the half progressed, with both sides alternating spells of possession without really displaying a cutting edge. Substitute Andre Schurrle attempted to break the monotony just past the hour mark after sneaking in on the left flank, but saw his finish parried comfortably by Andersen.

Manuel Neuer then caused a few German hearts to flutter with a fumbling piece of handling on a seemingly routine effort from distance by Niki Zimling.

Chances remained hard to come by, with Germany perhaps secure in the knowledge that a draw would take them through as group winners. That permutation would be confirmed with nine minutes to go, as Bender was quickest to react to Mesut Ozil’s pass to slot the Germans into the lead for good.

Bendtner sent a late header over the bar, but there was to be no recovery for Denmark whose exit from the tournament was confirmed with the news of Cristiano Ronaldo's winner against the Netherlands.


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