KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) ― Mario Gomez scored two first-half goals Wednesday to give Germany a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in one of the most anticipated showdowns of the European Championship.
Robin van Persie pulled one back for the Netherlands in the second half but the defeat left the 2010 World Cup runner-up on the brink of elimination.
“Early on we had decent chances but the German goals came out of nowhere,” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said. “We defended badly. Our offense and defense did not connect.
“Germany really has an excellent team. It has power, creativity and scoring.”
Germany has six points from two wins but still is not certain of advancing from Group B, where three teams could end up with six points. Earlier, Portugal beat Denmark 3-2.
The Netherlands, along with Germany considered one of the favorites but drawn into the so-called Group of Death, now has lost both of its group games and needs to beat Portugal to have a hope. Germany will need only a draw against Denmark to win the group.
|Germany’s Mario Gomez scores the opening goal. (AP-Yonhap News)|
Gomez put Germany ahead in the 24th minute after collecting a pass from Bastian Schweinsteiger at the edge of the penalty area and turning between two Dutch defenders, who were betting on an offside call. But Gregory van der Wiel failed to move forward quickly enough and Gomez had a simple task in slotting past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Stekelenburg made a stunning reflex save to stop Holger Badstuber’s header from a free kick cross from Mesut Oezil from point-blank range in the 37th, but one minute later he was beaten again.
Gomez and Schweinsteiger outplayed the Dutch defense with two simple moves. Gomez passed to the ball to Schweinsteiger, who immediately played it into space for Gomez and the striker slotted inside the far post.
Gomez went off in the 72nd minute and was replaced by Miroslav Klose ― but one minute later van Persie finally found the target for the Dutch, driving home from the edge of the box in the 73rd.Portugal 3, Denmark 2
LVIV, Ukraine (AP) ― Silvestre Varela scored in the 87th minute to give Portugal a 3-2 win over Denmark on Wednesday and revive his team’s hopes of reaching the European Championship quarterfinals.
Varela scored from short range three minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 84th minute, helping the Portuguese bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Germany in their opening game.
The Portuguese led it late, but looked like they would have to settle for a draw after Nicklas Bendtner leveled the score with his second goal in the 80th.
“Conceding an equalizer so late, we showed great strength of character to keep going after the win,” said Portugal coach Paulo Bento, whose team refound its goal-scoring form after a four-game winless streak when it found the net only once.
|Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo disagrees with a referee’s call. (AP-Yonhap News)|
Pepe gave Portugal the lead with a header in the 24th and Helder Postiga added another in the 37th. But Bendtner scored in the 41st when he headed into an open goal after Michael Krohn-Dehli headed across the goal from the back post.
Bendtner has scored in each of the four official games he’s played in against Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo had another miserable game, squandering two clear chances in front of Denmark goalkeeper Stephan Andersen and bringing jeers from the crowd.
“We should have killed the game off earlier,” Bento said. “We had enough chances.”
The loss was a setback for Denmark’s ambitions after it beat the Netherlands 1-0 in its opening game. Both Portugal and Denmark now have three points in Group B.