Germany scored three times in a 13-minute span of the second half to beat Greece 4-2 and move into the semifinals of the European soccer championship.
Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus had the goals that broke open a 1-1 game last night in Gdansk, Poland. Philipp Lahm also scored for record three-time champion Germany, which meets England or Italy in the semifinals on June 28.
“We’re very happy,” German midfielder Mesut Ozil said at a news conference. “For us, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s England or Italy. We will do everything to play in the final.”
Germany extended its national-record winning streak in competitive matches to 15 games. The Germans also remain unbeaten in nine games against Greece, which got goals from Georgios Samaras and Dimitris Salpingidis.
“We definitely played against a great team today, we knew that from the very first moment,” Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said on the website of UEFA, the tournament organizer. “I believe this team is one of the best teams around today and one of the best teams of the past five years.”
European and world champion Spain faces France in today’s quarterfinal match in Donetsk, Ukraine. The winner plays Portugal in the last four on June 27.
Germany coach Joachim Low made several changes to his lineup last night with Klose, Reus and Andre Schurrle starting in attack and Mario Gomez, tied for the tournament lead with three goals, among those going to the bench.
“It was important to bring fresh faces,” the manager said. “I wanted to be unpredictable against Greece and that worked out very well.”
The changes almost paid off in the fourth minute when Klose poked in the rebound after Michalis Sifakis fumbled Khedira’s shot, only for Schurrle to be ruled offside. Reus then shot wide and also set up Ozil, whose attempt was saved by Sifakis.
Klose missed connecting with a ball at the far post from Reus. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer then stretched out to stop a shot from Sotiris Ninis as Greece made a rare push forward.
The Germans finally broke through in the 39th minute thanks to their captain, Lahm. The defender cut into the middle from the left and fired a swerving shot past Sifakis.
Greece stunned Germany on a counterattack 10 minutes into the second half to tie the score. Salpingidis ran down a long pass from Fanis Gekas on the right and sent a cross that a sliding Samaras knocked in.
“After halftime we made life very difficult for ourselves,” Khedira said in comments on UEFA’s website. “After the equalizer, we kept our pace high and deserved this win. It could have been easier.”
It took just six minutes for the Germans to regain the lead as Khedira jumped in the middle of the area to volley in Jerome Boateng’s cross.
Klose, who was born in Poland, then made it 3-1 in the 68th minute when he headed in Ozil’s free kick. It was his 64th goal for Germany, four behind Gerd Muller’s record, and 17th at an international tournament.
Klose almost increased the lead a minute later with a shot that Sifakis blocked. Reus netted the fourth goal in the 74th minute when he volleyed in the rebound after Sifakis stopped another Klose attempt.
Greece added a consolation goal in the 89th minute as Salpingidis scored with a penalty kick after a handball against Boateng.