Euro 2012: Germany ominously move up a few gears

German forward Miroslav Klose (left) celebrates with Philipp Lahm after his goal. Picture: AFP/Getty
German forward Miroslav Klose (left) celebrates with Philipp Lahm after his goal. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Germany eased ominously into the semi-finals of Euro 2012 – where they will meet either England or Italy – as Greece’s resistance finally crumbled.

Having set out to frustrate from the off, once they fell behind to Philipp Lahm’s goal just before half-time the 2004 champions were always up against it.

“That was a class performance from the team to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time in a row,” said coach Joachim Löw. “We can be proud of the team, it was clear that the Greeks could make something out of nothing.

“We failed to take an early lead, but we did not panic. There were a few changes and I thought I had to change things after three wins.”

Having equalised somewhat unexpectedly through Celtic forward Giorgios Samaras Greece could not hold on for very long, and goals from Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus merely reflected the dominance of the three-time winners of this tournament before Dimitris Salpingidis’ late penalty.

On the four previous occasions Germany have won a last-eight encounter they have reached the final, and this performance increased the likelihood of them making it five.

For a long time in the first half it appeared they might regret a number of missed chances, but once Lahm broke the deadlock there was only going to be one winner.

Germany were made to pay for their missed chances ten minutes after the break when out of nowhere Greece equalised. Substitute Theofanis Gekas released Salpingidis on a quick break down the right, and when he slid over a teasing cross Samaras poked home at the far post.

They were level for only six minutes, though, as Khedira, Germany’s supposed defensive linchpin in midfield, timed his run from deep perfectly to volley home from Jerome Boateng’s assist.

Klose ensured the Greeks could not produce another 2004 upset when he powered home a header from Ozil’s free-kick as Sifakis came but got nowhere near the cross, and Reus lashed in a volley off the underside of the crossbar after a shot from Klose, earning his 120th cap, rebounded off the goalkeeper.

Salpingidis converted a late penalty, somewhat generously awarded for Boateng’s handball, but it was little consolation.