Group B
Netherlands 1-2 Germany 



Mario Gomez struck his second goal of the game with a fine effort despite the desperate attempts of Dutch defender Willems to block


By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv

Holland are left on the brink of elimination from the tournament after a clinical brace from Mario Gomez gave Germany a precious victory in a stimulating match.  

After Robin Van Persie missed an early chance, the Dutch faded away and were picked off with two attacks of the highest order from the wide tournament favourites both set up by Bastian Schweinsteiger and finished in style by Bayern Munich forward Gomez adding his second and third Euro 2012 goals to settle an important contest in the affectionately nicknamed "Group of Death". The Gunners forward for the 2010 World Cup finalists pulled a goal back with an unerring second half but the defeat quantified Holland's need for a victory in their final match with Portugal whilst pinning their hopes on the result of the other fixture taking place.

Despite missing a host of chances in their first game- a shock 1-0 defeat against Denmark, Holland manager Bert Van Marwijk decided to stick with ten of the eleven players who started the match with Malaga centre-back Joris Mathijsen returning from a hamstring injury to replace Ron Vlaar while the Germans were unchanged from their 1-0 win against Portugal in their Group B opener. The animosity between the two sides set up a tantalising clash in the 39th meeting between the countries.

The 28-year-old Van Persie, who scored 30 Premier League goals in 38 appearances last season for Arsenal, had the first opportunity of the match after six minutes when running onto captain Mark van Bommel’s glorious lifted pass over Hummels but only managed to poke the ball straight at German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as the Netherlands began aggressively. Joachim Loew's side looked to respond straight away through Mesut Ozil, whose volley from Van Bommel’s weak clearing header rebounded off the post into the grateful arms of Maarten Stekelenburg.

There was a real ebb and flow developing in the match with some high-quality football being exhibited from both sides in the first twenty minutes while Van Persie spooned another attempt off target after latching onto a pinpoint pass from Arjen Robben while an opening almost occurred for the forward but the attempted cross from Ibrahim Afellay was poorly executed. Van Persie's woes in front of goal seemed set to continue, and were further highlighted on 24 minutes when his German counterpart Gomez gave a lesson in clinical finishing to silence his own critics as the Germans scored for a 17th successive match.



After the 2-1 defeat against Germany, it means that Holland have now won just three of their last nine games.


Bastian Schweinsteiger- who didn't feature in Germany's warm-up friendlies due to a calf injury sustained in the Champions League final last month- provided the through pass which perfectly picked out the run of his club team-mate Gomez, whose exquisite turn allowed him the space to slot with real composure into the corner despite a slight touch from the hand of Stekelenburg. Gomez came close to adding a second just past the half-hour mark, but was a few inches short of connecting with Thomas Muller’s low centre from the right.

Holland, top scorers in qualifying, were looking all at sea defensively in their rigid system with 18-year old PSV left-back Jetro Willems- making only his fourth cap- was given the run around by the crafty movement of the likes of Mueller, Ozil and Gomez in the first period. There was no doubt now that Germany were in the ascendancy and they could have doubled their lead when Ozil’s free-kick found defender Holger Badstuber up from the back completely unmarked only for Stekelenburg to remarkably block the defender’s header from point blank range when it looked easier for the Bayern Munich man to find the net.

The Germans, who were beaten by Spain in the Euro 2008 final, would find their second seven minutes before half-time though with the trusty combination working a treat once more while Gomez still had his work cut out and a lot to do after receiving Schweinsteiger’s pass on the right side of the box, but did not let the angle worry him and lashed over Stekelenburg into the far side of the goal for a fantastic goal which deflated the Dutch as it was a tale of two strikers in contrasting form of late in the first half.

The Dutch goalkeeper may have been suspect for Germany’s second goal however prevented his side from falling further behind in the final kick of the first 45 minutes by tipping away Schweinsteiger’s free-kick with the last kick of the half which took a wicked deflection of Arjen Robben and was heading into the top corner. Boss Bert Van Marwijk, who vented his fury on the touchline, shook things up at the interval hauling off captain Van Bommel and Barcelona's Afellay for Schalke's goal-crazy Huntelaar and Spurs midfielder Rafael van der Vaart to come on at the start of the second-half.



Germany won all ten of their qualification matches for Euro 2012 while securing a twelfth consecutive international victory against the Dutch.


However, there were no immediate signs of improvement from the Dutch as Germany still held the upper hand in the match with Dortmund defender Mats Hummels surprised the Netherlands rearguard with an enterprising run carrying the ball for the entire length of the pitch before forcing Stekelenburg into a smart double save even though the first effort was weak. Robben tried to spark his side into life with a run down the left flank, teeing up Van Persie at the edge of the box for a shot that was pushed away well by the alert Neuer. Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder was next up to force the issue bending a long-range effort inches wide of the far post.

Having resorted to the basics in order to heal their wounds, the Dutch unremittingly towards the end dictated the momentum and half-heartedly appealed for a penalty when Van Persie went over in the box but Lahm had tackled well leaving Jonas Eriksson the referee wagging his finger. Holland were supported magnificently with the noise from the fans ear-splitting around the stadium although a German side with an average age of 24 years old weren't surrending their lead without a fight.

But as the second half wore on, Netherlands began to edge their way back into the match having adopted a nothing to lose philosophy as Robben sliced a volley inches off target before his pull-back found Sneijder who saw his shot blocked by the face of the brave Jerome Boateng. On 73 minutes, the Dutch did find a way back into the game when Van Persie took a pass on the edge of the box on the turn and smashed an unstoppable piledriver with his weaker right foot past the despairing Neuer to make the last few minutes interesting.

Robben was substituted in the final few minutes be replaced by Dirk Kuyt and he was far from happy with the decision throwing a tantrum towards the bench before exiting at the opposite side of the pitch. The Dutch then enjoyed a late spell of pressure although Germany were able to hold firm and almost wrapped the game up with bows after a gaffe by Stekelenburg nearly left Miroslav Klose with an empty net. Holland have now lost two consecutive internationals for the first time since the 1990s while a monumental task faces one of the pre-tournament frontrunners to qualify for the quarter-finals as they rely on Germany to beat Denmark in conjunction with a victory of their own against the Portuguese- who early beat the Danes 3-2.



ANALYSIS:  Netherlands 1-2 Germany
Adam Higgins- Chief Football Editor reporting in Kharkiv

"Germany were more superior in this game with the Dutch beginning well but had one very good chance through Van Persie which had it gone in would have given them the lead and would have settled their early nerves. But it was wasteful on this occasion from a very prolific scorer this season for Arsenal which allowed for the Germans to come into the game with two fine Bastian Schweinsteiger's finished off by the excellence of Mario Gomez. He is proving that he is more than capable of becoming a top star at international level having not previously stamped his mark on the German team- we can safely say that they have now. It was a very good match to watch with the Dutch improving marginally after half-time but tried to force things too much almost which was their achilles heel. It is very rare that the Netherlands lose two matches back-to-back especially at tournament level- they are left with a massive task now ahead of them against Portugal who will be determined to secure their place in the quarter-finals too. Leaves it all very interesting."




Wednesday 13th June                  UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                 Group B                 Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv 

Netherlands 1-2 Germany                                          KO 7:45pm                     Live on BBC1/HD                  (HT 0-2)

Van Persie 73      Gomez 24, 38






1 Maarten Stekelenburg-  6/10  Made a shocking mistake towards the end when receiving a backpass while he could have done better with the Gomez second goal.

2 Gregory Van Der Wiel-  6.5/10  Out of position on numerous occasions, playing Gomez onside for the first goal and was virtually anonymous in the game.

4 Joris Mathijsen-  6.5/10  Returned to the team after injury and looked out of place and very uncomfortable- had his hand in the air appealing for offside for first goal. Poor display from him.

3 John Heitanga-  6/10  If you think Mathijsen had a bad game, then Heitanga had an absolute shocker. He was part of the defensive problem throughout for the Dutch splitting apart for the two goals with Schweinsteiger allowed two easy passes.

15 Jetro Willems-  6/10  A contrasting game for the 18-year old who had his wordst international match so far in his short career for Dutch. Caught out in first half and booked later in the game. 

8 Nigel De Jong-  7/10  Pressurised the Germans when they were trying to run the clock down in the corner, managed to keep his cool under immense pressure and did a good job.

6 Mark Van Bommel (C)-  5/10  Poor game from AC Milan veteran, outshone by Schweinsteiger, couldn't get a grip on the game and was taken off at half-time.

11 Arjen Robben-  6/10  Was out of depth, had a strop when being substituted late in the game. Had one good moment in the second half- his frustration got the better of him.

10 Wesley Sneidjer-  6.5/10  Had a shot blocked by the face of Boateng and was starting to bring back some of his better play into the game but needed help to do so.

20 Ibrahim Afellay-  5.5/10  A non-existent display from the Barcelona man still recouperating from a long-term injury. Hasn't made an impact so far- provided one poor cross for Van Persie that his only contribution.

16 Robin Van Persie-  6.5/10  Scored a terrific goal in the second half after missing a glorious opportunity earlier- once again proved his club form cannot be easily transferred to international level.

Substitutes bench:-
12 Vorm (GK), 22 Krul (GK), 5 Bouma, 13 Vlaar, 21 Boulahrouz, 14 Schaars, 17 Strootman, 23 Van der Vaart, 7 Kuyt, 9 Huntelaar, 18 L De Jong, 19 Narsingh.


Subs used: 

Van der Vaart (for Van Bommel-  Half-time)-  6/10  The Spurs man did help the passing from the Netherlands speed up a bit but again couldn't grab the match by the scruff of its neck and change things.

Huntelaar (for Afellay-  Half-time)-  4.5/10  He may have been scoring goals all season and had a positive impact without finding the net against Denmark, he didn't sway the match for the Dutch when introduced at half-time.

Kuyt (for Robben-  83 mins)-  2/10  Just like in the first match, the Fenerbache newboy came on as a substitute but had no effect on the game whatsoever. Another pointless change- did nothing.


Booked:       De Jong (80), Willems (90)


Sent-off:       None




1 Manuel Neuer-  7.5/10  Didn't have a great deal to do with one or two in the first half being fairly routine before denying Van Persie with a splendid stop- was eventually beaten by the forward.

20 Jerome Boateng-  7.5/10  The Bayern Munich man didn't get forward as much in the second half but made a crucial block in his defensive position to stop a Sneidjer shot reaching the net.

5 Mats Hummels-  8/10  Could have gone out to the ball quicker for the Van Persie goal started the game off nervously allowing a ball to drift over his head. Brought a double save out of keeper in second half.

14 Holger Badstuber-  7.5/10  Should have scored himself when heading a free-kick too central and was kept out by Stekelenburg- a moderate game for him.

16 Phillip Lahm (C)-  7.5/10  The left-back defended well showing all of his experience and trust at such an old age- showed his wise footballing brain well in such an important match.

6 Sami Khedira-  7/10  A quiet match for the midfielder, just didn't demand to receive the ball as much as he normally does and was largely ineffective.

7 Bastian Schweinsteiger-  9.5/10  He was a class-act still proving he is more than capable of bossing the midfield for such a good Germany side. Provided two assists for Gomez.

13 Thomas Mueller-  8/10  Quietly went about his business while getting in a cross in the first half with real pace which deserved a goal. Caused havoc with Willems struggling to deal with his movement.

8 Mesut Ozil-  8/10  Hit the post early on and although he didn't have as good a game as he did against the Portuguese but still managed to have a decent influence on proceedings.

10 Lukas Podolski-  6.5/10  Didn't look interested and wasn't doing much to get himself involved- it was a poor individual performance in a good quality display from his whole team.

23 Mario Gomez-  8.5/10  The forward has progressed over the past few years with him reaching his maximum potential- scored both goals for the Germans and really is starting to show his form and ability to score goals at all playing levels.

Substitutes bench:-
12 Wiese (GK), 22 Zieler (GK), 3 Schmelzer, 4 Howedes, 17 Mertesacker, 2 Gundogan, 9 Schurrle, 15 Bender, 18 Kroos, 19 Gotze, 21 Reus, 11 Klose.

Subs used: 

Klose (for Gomez-  72 mins)-  3/10  The veteran forward looked to have come on and unusually not make a contribution but he almost gifted a goal by Stekelenburg late on.

Kroos (for Ozil-  81 mins)-  2/10  Didn't do much if anything in the match after being brought on fairly late in the game mainly introduced to replace some tired legs with fresh ones.

Bender (for Mueller-  90+1 mins)-  0.5/10  One of those changes that was made to add an appearance to Bender's tournament statistics while winding the clock down with his side desperate to hold on.

Booked:       Boateng (87)

Sent-off:       None


My Man of the Match:    Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Mark Van Bommel (Holland)- Rating 5/10



Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)- 9/10
Attendance: 38,633



Match Facts:

Possession: Holland- 53%               Germany- 47%

Shots at goal: Holland- 12                Germany- 12

Shots on target: Holland- 6                Germany- 9

Shots off target: Holland- 6                Germany- 3

Corners: Holland- 6                      Germany- 5

Fouls: Holland- 10                       Germany- 7

Offsides: Holland- 1                      Germany- 3

Assists: Holland- 0                     Germany- 2 (Schweinsteiger 2)





Netherlands head coach Bert Van Marwijk:  "We defended moderately and the co-operation between our midfielders and defence was poor throughout the game but we cannot imagine that it is over when we are at this level especially with a game left. We need to make sure that we win against Portugal and hope that Germany win. I thought we played very well in the first twenty minutes and had a few decent chances to score that crucial goal, but you have to take them against sides with the quality that Germany have in abundance. In the final minutes we tried to force things a bit but you have to be daring to get the second goal. We cannot expect to perform like that against anybody and get a result."

Click here for the post-match thoughts of Holland's Dirk Kuyt


Germany head coach Joachim Loew:  "Being winner of the group would be important for us because it means we can stay in Gdansk and that would probably be to our advantage in the quarter-final stage. I think we deserve to be in the next phase for approaching the two difficult games well and grinding out two fantastic victories. Against the Netherlands, the temperatures were extreme and the game was competitive and intense throughout but we coped with it fantastically. There were times when both teams lacked momentum and there were times where we saw some really top quality football. They had two good early chances where you think that you could be punished when they fall to a player like Robin Van Persie. But we were determined to take the step towards the quarter-finals with a victory here and that is what we have got. Mario (Gomez) has produced two really stunning finishes to get us through and we are now seeing his very best form at international level as well as for Bayern Munich."


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