Story by Aaron Bliss
Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
So the 2010 World Cup finalists exit Euro 2012 without a single point. The Netherlands have had a wretched tournament, and it continued to the last, while Portugal celebrated progressing in style. Despite Bert Van Marwijk finally dismantling the ‘clogs of war’ by dispensing with Marc Van Bommel, and his replacement Rafael Van Der Vaart scoring a superb opener, the Dutch contrived to waste a promising opening twenty minutes by allowing Portugal to dictate play for most of the remainder of the game. Wave after wave of Portuguese attack was deflected, with Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly deciding to wake up from his tournament coma thus far, providing two cute finishes and striking wither post in the second half. The fans were enthused that Van Marwijk finally started Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a man who resembles a Grimm Brothers villain, and, unfortunately for the Dutch, played like one too. Aside from another brilliant curler from Van Der Vaart which hit the post, it was all Portugal, and with Ronaldo finally announcing himself on the tournament, who’s to say the Portuguese won’t be dark horses? As for the Dutch, egos have undone them once more, though exiting at the group stage, even in a ‘Group of Death’, will be an indignity too far for some.
Denmark 1-2 Germany
Despite a brave resistance from the Danes, the formidable Germans marched on out of the group on the back of a clean sweep of victories. An assured early German move led to Thomas Muller somehow being denied by Stefan Andersen from inexplicably close range, but it didn’t take long for Germany to cruise into the lead. Some nice wing work from Muller saw his cutback flicked back by Gomez into the space that Lukas Podolski had raced into, and the striker celebrated his milestone youngest century of caps with a close range finish. With everyone expecting Germany to open up a commanding lead, Denmark shocked all present by equalising just five minutes later. A deep corner saw Niklas Bendtner rising majestically to power a header back into the mix, where Krohn-Delhi was alive to nod it in from close range. A flowing Danish break led by Simon Poulsen almost led to an unlikely second for the Danes, with the rampaging left-back firing in a low cross that Bendtner laid back neatly between German defenders, for Jakob Poulsen to kiss the outside of the post. The Danes were even more unfortunate when a long ball saw Niklas Bendtner lob the ball into Neuer’s arms, before remonstrating for a penalty. Replays seemed to show Holger Badstuber taking a fair yank of the arrogant one’s shirt to prevent him lunging fully. Denmark were just a goal away from eliminating Portugal and Holland, but their hearts were broken just ten minutes from the end, when Sami Khedira fed Mesut Ozil, a man who looks as if someone has a piece of string around his throat and is pulling very hard. The playmaker laid the ball across the box as substitute Miroslav Klose arrived, but the ball ran past him for young full-back Lars Bender to charge in at the back post and sidefoot in for a glorious winner.