Gomez guides Germany to glory

PA Sport
Mario Gomez (centre) has matched Alan Dzagoev's haul of three goals at Euro 2012
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Mario Gomez (centre) has matched Alan Dzagoev's haul of three goals at Euro 2012

Mario Gomez's first-half double sent Germany to the brink of the UEFA Euro 2012 knockout stages with a 2-1 win over Holland, whose own hopes of reaching the last eight now hang by a thread.

Gomez, who had scored the winner in Germany's opening win over Portugal, opened the scoring in the 24th minute and added his second in the 38th before Robin van Persie reduced the deficit 17 minutes from time.

The result means Germany need just a point from their final Group B game against Denmark to guarantee progression, while Holland need to beat Portugal and hope for both a Germany win and a swing in goal difference.

Van Persie shot straight at Manuel Neuer before Mesut Ozil responded for Germany with a ninth-minute volley which struck the base of Maarten Stekelenburg's left-hand post. Another opportunity went begging when Ibrahim Afellay's cross towards Van Persie was crucially intercepted by Mats Hummels.

But Gomez put Germany ahead in the 24th minute with an excellent finish after Bastian Schweinsteiger's through-ball cut the Dutch defence in two. Gomez turned and fired the opener low to Stekelenburg's right.

And in the 38th minute Germany got their second, Schweinsteiger playing in Gomez who looked up and slammed an unstoppable shot across the keeper from a tight angle. Germany almost made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when Schweinsteiger's free-kick struck Arjen Robben and looked set to loop into the top corner only to be tipped over by Stekelenburg.

Van Marwijk introduced both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart at the break but the Germans continued to press. With the Dutch forced to push forward they also had chances with Robben seeing his drive deflected over by Philipp Lahm, then Robben crossing from the left to Van Persie whose powerful low drive was well saved by Neuer.

Holland came even closer to reducing the deficit in the 62nd minute when Wesley Sneijder left fly from outside the box and saw his drive flash inches wide of Neuer's left-hand post with the keeper beaten. Another Sneijder effort was blocked in the box by Jerome Boateng with a suspicion of handball.

The Dutch pressure paid off as Van Persie finally broke his Euro 2012 deadlock in style. The Arsenal striker turned and drifted across from the left flank before drilling a brilliant finish past Neuer from the edge of the box to give his side hope with 17 minutes of the match still to play.

Van Persie had a penalty appeal waved away before Robben expressed his frustration at being substituted by exiting the pitch on the far side of the field in front of the Dutch fans. In the 89th minute Stekelenburg made a mighty hash of a back-pass and almost presented German substitute Miroslav Klose with the simplest of chances to wrap things up.

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