Three-time champions Germany avoided a David and Goliath-like upset on Friday by blasting past Greece with a record-setting 4-2 victory to reach the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Philipp Lahm’s goal for Germany in the 39th minute was equalised by Giorgos Samaras after 55 minutes. But the Germans regained the lead in the 61st minute through Sami Khedira, and Miroslav Klose decided the game for good with his goal to make it 3-1 in the 68th minute.
Marco Reus added another goal for Germany in the 74th minute, before Dimitris Salpingidis converted a penalty for Greece in the 89th minute to make it 4-2.
The Germans increased their undefeated streak to nine matches against the 2004 European champions Greece and reached their eighth semifinals, where they will meet the winner of England and Italy on Thursday in Warsaw.
Germany’s victory at Arena Gdansk was their 15th consecutive in competitive play, setting a new record which started with the third place match at the 2010 World Cup.
German coach Joachim Loew took some chances in making his squad more attack-minded with three changes up front with Klose, Andre Schuerrle and Reus coming on for Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller. A fourth move saw Jerome Boateng return from his one-game suspension in place of the hero against Denmark, Lars Bender, in the backline.
Loew’s Greek counterpart Fernando Santos made two changes to his line-up with Grigoris Makos and Sotiris Ninis replacing Fanis Gekas and the suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis while Kostas Katsouranis took over the armband.
Germany wasted no time going for the early knockout punch with one push forward after another. And Loew’s team even found the net after four minutes but Schuerrle was ruled offside. Reus (11th and 25th) and Mesut Oezil (23rd) also missed chances.
The Greeks finally tested German keeper Manuel Neuer after 32 minutes but Ninis’s low attempt was stopped superbly.
After Schuerrle missed an attempt as well, German captain Lahm said it was time to stop messing around. The full back unleashed a blast from 25 yards that swerved towards the right post and just off the fingers of Greek keeper Michalis Sifakis.
Germany failed to deliver the knockout punch, and Greece clobbered the favourites in the mouth with a counter-attack score 10 minutes after the break. The half-time substitute Gekas sent Salpingidis racing down the right side and the striker crossed into the path of Samaras, who was faster than Boateng and beat Neuer for the equaliser.
The Germans diminished any hopes in the 61st as Boateng’s cross from the right side found Khedira for a jumping volley strike to make it 2-1.
Klose finished off the game in the 68th minute, heading in Oezil’s corner from the right side after creating some space away from Kyriakos Papadopoulos for his 64th goal for Germany.
And Reus joined the scoring sheet in the 74th minute after Sifakis stopped Klose’s attempt which went to the attacking midfielder, whose shot struck the crossbar and went in.
Greece pulled a goal back in the 89th minute from the spot as Salpingidis connected his penalty into the lower right corner after Boateng handled Vassilis Torossidis’s ball in the box.