Germany puts Greece to the sword
Gdansk, Poland (Sports Network) - Four different scorers chipped in to power Germany into the semifinals as the Group B winners put Greece to the sword in a 4-2 win at the Arena Gdansk on Friday.
Head coach Joachim Loew raised some eyebrows with his selection of the starting XI, opting to deploy Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle and Miroslav Klose instead of Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez despite the trio helping the Germans progress from the group stage with a perfect record.
But the changes did not disrupt Germany's rhythm as they bagged four goals in the span of 35 minutes across two halves.
Philipp Lahm opened the scoring in the 39th minute before Giorgos Samaras handed Greece a lifeline just after the break.
The equalizer galvanized Germany as Sami Khedira, Reus and Klose turned the match back in favor of the Euro 2008 runners-up.
Dimitris Salpingidis converted a late penalty kick but it was too little too late for the Euro 2004 champions as Germany punched its ticket to the semifinals in convincing fashion.
Germany dominated right off the bat and nearly grabbed a goal inside the opening five minutes when Klose slammed a rebound into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed as the Lazio striker was in an offside position when the initial shot was taken.
Reus made the most his unsuspected start and was heavily involved midway through the opening period. He set Mesut Ozil up for a wonderful chance inside the box but the Real Madrid attacker failed to slip his shot past Greece goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.
The Germans eventually claimed the lead just before the break as Lahm's scorcher from outside the box swerved past the Greek 'keeper and into the back of the net.
Much like all three matches of the group stage, Greece came out strong in the second half and got back into the match with a surprising goal in the 55th minute.
Hitting Germany on the counter-attack, Salpingidis broke free on the right flank and delivered a perfect ball into the center of the box where Samaras was charging to slam the effort past Manuel Neuer.
Greece was not level for long though - the Germans pulled back into the driver's seat six minutes later.
Jerome Boateng sent in a cross from the right side and Khedira beat his mark to the ball before firing a nifty volley into the roof of the net.
Klose notched what turned out to be the game-winner in the 68th minute as he headed home a set piece from Ozil.
Reus added insult to injury for the Germans in the 74th minute when he capitalized on a rebound given up by Sifakis. The Borussia Monchengladbach striker slammed home an emphatic volley off the underside of the crossbar on its way into the empty net.
Greece pulled one goal back after Boateng blocked a shot in the box with his arm. Salpingidis converted the ensuing penalty kick to cut the deficit in half, but it only softened the blow as the Greeks bow out of the tournament after surprisingly emerging from Group A.
Germany advances to the semifinals where it will face either England or Italy on Thursday.