Germany beats Greece 4-2 to reach semifinals

With Chancellor Angela Merkel cheering every step of the way,

Germany dominated Greece – on the football field.

The Germans reached the European Championship semifinals for a

record seventh time by beating Greece 4-2 Friday in a match played

amid the contentious political backdrop between the countries.

But just like in the real world, where Germany has been a major

contributor to economic bailouts for Greece, the three-time

champions were in control at the Arena Gdansk. And after the match,

Merkel visited the players in the changing room.

”(Merkel) congratulated us and said that we played very well,”

Germany forward Mesut Oezil said. ”The rest of what she said will

stay among us.”

Philipp Lahm put Germany in the lead in the 39th minute as his

team controlled nearly every facet of the game. Although Georgios

Samaras equalized for Greece in the 55th, it was all Germany after

that as Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus scored.

It was the 15th consecutive competitive victory for Germany,

dating back to the win over Uruguay for third place at the 2010

World Cup. The Germans will go for No. 16 against either England or

Italy in the semifinals on Thursday in Warsaw.

Although Germany dominated from the start, the Greek defense

held strong for much of the first half. Lahm finally put his team

in front by controlling the ball with his chest and dribbling

toward 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 equalized when Samaras knocked the ball past Germany

goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after a perfect cross from Dimitris

Salpigidis.

It was one of Greece few forays into Germany’s side of the

field.

”Greece is 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.”

They did indeed.

Khedira volleyed in a cross from Jerome Boateng in the 61st, and

Klose headed in a free kick from 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.

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.”

Loew dropped his three main forwards for the match, including

leading striker Mario Gomez, but their replacements did just

fine.

Klose, who has Polish heritage, constantly troubled the Greek

defense and linked up well with Oezil and Andre Schuerrle.

Greece had one major change in its lineup, but it was because of

suspension. Captain Giorgos Karagounis sat out the match after

picking up a yellow card in the 1-0 win over Russia for diving.

Without him in the midfield, the Germans had little trouble

controlling the play and creating chance after chance.

”We made it to the last eight and this is very important,”

Papastathopoulos said. ”The Netherlands didn’t make it and we are

talking about a very big country in football terms.”

Lineups:

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger

Badstuber, Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger,

Marco Reus (Mario Goetze, 80), Mesut Oezil, Andre Schuerrle (Thomas

Mueller, 67), Miroslav Klose (Mario Gomez, 80).

Greece: Michalis Sifakis, Yiannis Maniatis, Giorgos Tzavelas

(Giorgos Fotakis, 46), Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Grigoris Makos (Nikos

Lymberopoulos, 72), Georgios Samaras, Dimitris Salpigidis, Vassilis

Torosidis, Sotiris Ninis (Fanis Gekas, 46), Sokratis

Papastathopoulos, Costas Katsouranis.