Germans power past Greeks
GDANSK, Poland (AP):Germany scored three second-half goals to reach the European Championship semi-finals for a record seventh time yesterday after a 4-2 win over Greece.
Philipp Lahm gave Germany the lead in the 39th minute before Georgios Samaras equalised for Greece in the 55th. But Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus all scored to pull Germany clear. Greece got a consolation penalty in the 89th by Dimitris Salpigidis.
"We made some silly mistakes but at the end we scored four goals,'' Lahm said. "We had many chances in the first 10-15 minutes.''
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the trip for the match and stood to cheer every time her team scored.
The match was played amid a political background between the countries. Germany has been a major contributor to economic bailouts for Greece and was instrumental in demanding unpopular spending cuts.
Germany dominated nearly the entire match at the Arena Gdansk, but the Greek defence held strong for much of the first half. Lahm finally put his team in front by controlling the ball with his chest and dribbling towards the middle before sending a long-distance shot into the corner off the hand of Greece goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.
"We couldn't breathe and did very little with our chances and on set pieces,'' Greece coach Fernando Santos said. "The first goal made things very difficult for us, despite our good defensive effort.''
The Greeks looked better at the start of the second half, and even equalised when Samaras knocked the ball past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after a perfect cross from Dimitris Salpigidis.
"Greece are a curious team. They had one chance and scored two goals,'' Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "But we didn't get nervous after 1-1, and the goals came.''
But after that goal, it was back to being all Germany.
Khedira volleyed in a cross from Jerome Boateng in the 61st, and Klose headed in a free kick from Mesut Oezil in the 68th as Sifakis was late to punch the ball away.
"When we conceded a second goal we had to open up and that cost us,'' Salpigidis said. "I hope the Greeks got some encouragement from watching us fighting.''
Reus made it 4-1 in the 74th, volleying a shot in off the underside of the crossbar after Sifakis had saved from Klose.
"One-one was unnecessary but we kept looking for chances,'' Reus said. "We kept attacking and the goals finally came.''
Salpigidis added a consolation penalty for Greece in the 89th after Boateng handled.
"We scored twice. We did what we could,'' Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said. "Maybe we could have been a bit more careful but we fought hard, we fought for the whole of Greece.''
It was the 15th consecutive competitive victory for Germany, starting with the win over Uruguay for third place at the 2010 World Cup.
Salpigidis scored from the penalty spot after Boateng handled the ball.
Germany coach Joachim Loew dropped his three main forwards for the match, including leading striker Mario Gomez, but their replacements did just fine.