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Germany knock Greece out of Euros

By Kevin Darling, CNN
June 22, 2012 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Sami Khedira restored Germany's lead on 61 minutes with one of the goals of the tournament so far.
Sami Khedira restored Germany's lead on 61 minutes with one of the goals of the tournament so far.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Germany beat Greece 4-2 in Euro 2012 quarterfinal
  • Philip Lahm put Germans in front before Giorgios Samaras' shock leveller
  • Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus restored German advantage
  • Dimitris Salpingidis netted consolation penalty for Greece

(CNN) -- Germany 4-2 Greece

Germany cruised into the semifinals of Euro 2012 as Greece's unlikely run in the tournament was ruthlessly brought to a halt in Gdansk.

Philip Lahm's long-range strike, Sami Khedira's superb volley, Miroslav Klose's header and a Marco Reus thunderbolt sealed a comfortable victory.

The result only looked briefly in doubt when Giorgios Samaras brought Greece level for six minutes in the second half, while Dimitris Salpingidis made the Greek deficit respectable with a late penalty.

Germany's win vindicated a pre-match selection gamble from their manager Joachim Low, who surprisingly rested his three main attackers Mario Gomez, Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski.

They will all expect to return to the starting line-up when Germany take on either England or Italy in next Thursday's semifinal.

"I thought I had to change things after three wins," said Low following the victory.

"That was a class performance. We failed to take an early lead, but we did not panic. We can be proud of the team."

Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere. Spain's soccer team celebrates with the Euro 2012 trophy on a double-decker bus during the victory parade in Madrid on Monday. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final match on Sunday. Euro 2012, bringing together 16 of Europe's best national soccer teams, began June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Look back at the action and atmosphere.
Euro 2012: The best photos
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Soccer Live: CNN's blog from Friday's second Euro 2012 quarterfinal

The pre-match talk had centred on political tensions between the two nations over Greece's debt.

But the Germans were anything but economical in the opening exchanges as a series of chances went begging.

The most inviting fell to Mesut Ozil, who sidefooted weakly at the keeper from 12 yards, while Reus was also wasteful.

Greece's players, meanwhile, were models of thrift and caution, with five across the midfield and lone striker Salpingidis subsisting on the merest of scraps.

But for all Fernando Santos' side's diligent defending, it was a lack of concentration at the back that led to Germany's opening goal.

Lahm was allowed the time and space to cut inside from the left and unleash a swerving 20-yard strike with his lethal right foot.

It meant Greece, who had failed to carve out a single chance of note in the first half, needed to revamp their gameplan after the break.

Yet even while behind, the underdogs seemed content to keep players back and not leave themselves open to a fatal second goal.

This minimalist approach to attacking appeared to be paying off when they equalized courtesy of three touches of real class.

Germany's quarterfinal clash with Greece has been labeled the ultimate grudge match, given the ongoing Eurozone crisis. German-backed financial aid to Greece has come with sweeping austerity measures attached. Now Greece wants to hit back and knock Germany out of the Euros. Germany's quarterfinal clash with Greece has been labeled the ultimate grudge match, given the ongoing Eurozone crisis. German-backed financial aid to Greece has come with sweeping austerity measures attached. Now Greece wants to hit back and knock Germany out of the Euros.
The Eurozone grudge match
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Who will win Euro 2012?

The first was a sumptuous pass from Georgios Fotakis into the path of Salpingidis, who burst down the right and delivered a wicked low cross for Samaras to slide the ball home from close range.

It was one of the most astonishing moments of the tournament so far, but the Greek jubilation was short-lived.

Six minutes later, German superiority was restored when Jerome Boateng crossed and Khedira hammered in a spectacular volley from the edge of the box.

Germany's third goal was as soft as their second was brilliant, Klose nodding home from Ozil's corner after the hapless Greek goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis recklessly tried to claim the ball.

Reus then added a fourth with a blistering volley after Sifakis parried a Klose strike into his teammate's path.

There was time for Salpingidis to grab a consolation from the spot after Boateng was adjudged to have handled in the box.

But it would have taken more than that to dent the spirits of a German side who, having been confident enough to rest three key players of a quarterfinal of a major championship, will now have a strong belief they can win it.

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