Germany wins group; Ronaldo 2, Critics 0

[EURO 2012 WRAP] Cristiano Ronaldo's tour de force sent the Dutch home without a point and Portugal to the quarterfinals. Germany finished top of the group after beating Denmark, which should leave with heads held high. Both games finished with 2-1 final scores.

Germany didn’t bring it best game to Lviv, Ukraine, and it could’ve cost them. Lukas Podolski’s right-footed finish in the 19th minute was answered by Michael Krohn-Dehli’s header five minutes later, set up by Nicolas Bendtner. The game stayed tied late into the second half, with Portugal even with the Dutch the Germans could lose and still go through. When Portugal’s second goal gave them the lead in the 74th minute, Germany was exposed to going out -- if Denmark won 2-1.

Daniel Agger’s 76th-minute free kick from his own half touched on by Bendtner was saved while Holger Badstuber got away with a shirt-tug that could have earned the Danes a penalty kick – and possibly the clinching goal -- had referee Carlos Velasco Carballo noticed.

Lars Bender scored four minutes later and the Germans place in the quarters was secure.

Germany will face Greece in the quarterfinals on Friday in Gdansk.

Ronaldo knocked out the Dutch and carried Portugal into the quarterfinals at the Metalist Stadium in Ukraine.

The Netherlands entered the game knowing it had to win by two goals to have any chance of advancing. Rafael Van der Vaart and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar were given the start, and Ibrahim Afellay came in as a sub late. Van der Vaart gave the Dutch a moment of hope, with a finish from the edge of the box in the 11th minute. After that, Ronaldo made it clear he can play his best when it counts in a Portugal shirt. Ronaldo’s goals came in the 28th and 73rd minutes, he also hit the post twice, and left everyone struggling for superlatives.

Ronaldo was headline news on Wednesday for his missed opportunities, even in a thrilling victory by his country against Denmark. Against the Dutch he provided the best individual performance at Euro 2012 so far.

Portugal faces the Czech Republic in Warsaw on Thursday.

Denmark will head home knowing it almost made it out alive in the Group of Death, as Bendtner, Agger and Krohn–Deli played outstanding. But it’s hard to find anything for the 2010 World Cup runners-up Dutch to feel good about.

Did you know? ...

* Twenty years ago at Euro 1992 in Sweden: Denmark made the final tournament after being eliminated because Yugoslovia was at war and was forced to withdraw. The Danes went on win, beating Germany in the process.

* It was Podolski’s 100th cap for Germany.

* Bender’s winner was his first ever goal for Germany.

* It was the first time Germany won all three group matches at the Euros.

* Only three times in 23 previous tournaments have Germany failed to advance to the group stage.

* Ronaldo: Finished with 12 shots, a single game Euro Championship record – the Netherlands had 14 as a team. It was his son’s birthday.

* The Netherlands had made it out of the group in 11 straight previous major tournaments.

9 comments about "Germany wins group; Ronaldo 2, Critics 0".
  1. Carlos Thys, June 18, 2012 at 4:37 a.m.

    I really don't think anyone should at all over-hype Portugal. They played the perhaps weakest version of the Dutch we've seen in the last eight - ten years. The Dutch were dispirited, unprepared to work, run, sprint, and showed very little harmonious teamwork (also very evident against the Germans). Snider had no business being in this team, Robben flopped again, and they hadn't a clue as to how to serve Huntelar balls he could direct on goal. There is no more experienced side at this tournament and they completely imploded. Iceland or Finland probably would have beaten them last night in Kharkiv. So people need to put the Portugese only one goal margin win in perspective. Portugal and C. Ronaldo blew chances one would not necessarily see in a total of four games. One could not have arranged for two worse/weaker center backs than what Vlaar and Mathieson displayed for over 75 minutes. This said, Portugal now have all the chances in the world because they face a Czech team that struggles to produce convincing offensive / goal-threat movements. So, skeptic that I am of these scenarios, the stage is set for a Cristiano Ronaldo semi-final against Spain.

  2. John Toutkaldjian, June 18, 2012 at 9:43 a.m.

    It's obvious that Ronoldo needs to be in the center corridor of the field, not out on the wing. He also needs to handle the ball more. If that happens, he gets two goals a game - guaranteed!

    John Toutkaldjian

  3. Ramon Creager, June 18, 2012 at 11:08 a.m.

    "Holger Badstuber got away with a shirt-tug that could have earned the Danes a penalty kick – and possibly the clinching goal -- had referee Carlos Velasco Carballo noticed." It was pretty blatant. But did Carballo really not notice? Or did he turn a blind eye on it? I'd be inclined to the latter; there are after all 6 pairs of official eyes on the action in these games, all connected via wireless. Given that no penalties & red-cards have been awarded in this remarkably foul-infested tournament other than the ones in Poland's opener against Greece, one has to wonder if this isn't taking turning a blind eye a bit too far.

  4. ROBERT BOND, June 18, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.

    Holger did not keep him from getting a kick away, always that hard thing for the refs when there is still an offensive advantage, reffing much harder than playing-would you have preferred the Dane fell down? Der Mannschafft would have gotten another score, but it's nice when the breaks go your way. 20/23 is not gluck-still, we hold the record for finishing 2nd., let's get one. Es lebe DFB!

  5. Ramon Creager, June 18, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.

    I have to channel Carlos and say much the same about the hype surrounding the German team (including SA, which has them above Spain in their "power rankings"). Really not a strong showing against a very limited Denmark side, playing with no Dennis Rommedahl. The Danes, despite needing the win, limited themselves to a defend and counter strategy. The afore mentioned Badstuber foul, had it been properly called, could really have thrown a monkey wrench in the German works. This was labeled the Group of Death, but that's only if one considers pre-tournament paper strength. Denmark was always a long shot, the Netherlands were unmasked as a paper tiger, and Portugal were a Pepe crossbar-to-goal-line hit away from drawing with Germany and matching them in points. Don't let those 9 points blind you. I wouldn't be surprised if Greece turns the tables on Germany, imposing austerity on profligate Germans!

  6. Ramon Creager, June 18, 2012 at 11:50 a.m.

    Robert, this is the sort of thinking that encourages diving. The attacker fights through the foul, so no penalty given. But fouling a player like that easily can make him miss the shot, even if he does manage to take it. By not calling the foul, the fouler is rewarded and the forward is penalized for not taking the easy way out--diving. So what's a forward to do? Why, take the dive of course! I did referee and can tell you that the advantage decision is not based solely on perceived offensive advantage; rather it is an assessment of whether calling the foul would be more detrimental to the fouled team than not calling it. That penalty should have been given, as clearly the fouled team benefited less from the non-call over the alternative (making the penalty call).

  7. David Crowther, June 18, 2012 at 12:21 p.m.

    I would not underestimate Portugal. They created a lot of goal scoring chances in all 3 games and should have at least tied with Germany, as well as beaten both Denmark and Holland by much wider margins. I do not think they'll be an easy pushover for Spain in Semis, should that end up being the match-up. I can see Spain having a lot of trouble handling the Portuguese counter. And while I do expect Germany to take care of Greece without problems, I also don't think they would have it easy against France in the other semi. Thus, I would not be at all surprised if either Germany or Spain does not make the final.

  8. ROBERT BOND, June 18, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.

    So, Ramon, the three other teams also being ranked in the top 10 is all a fifa foul-up? Can't say I disagree, esp. as they have Uruguay 2nd....I loved the fact that this game had limited diving & moaning.the ref was behind the play, a fifth was right there, it happens, if I wanted to see a game with lots of refs & replays I could start watching US football again,they get a PK the game ends for greece, a chance to get revenge & self-esteem in a game for a result they can't match in real life, so definitely a trap game....just wish all the players would sing the 'Lied...

  9. Carlos Thys, June 19, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.

    Mr. Creager, it is very good that you point out the FC Bayern defender Holger Badstuber very obviously getting hand on opponent's shirt and stretching the fabric. That ought to be the most obvious sign to any referee that the defender is not using the law abiding means to thwart the opposing player. I cannot help but recall the softest shirt tugging call I've ever seen (on TV) at the Euro 2000 opener for the Netherlands as they hosted the Czechs. The Dutch were underperforming, and it was scoreless until the 86th minute. However, a Czech player tugging for a (true!) milisecond on Japp Stam's shirt resulted in a whistle and the referee pointing to the spot. Frank de Boer did not miss; the Netherlands had a very soft (home side/host side) 1 - 0 win and the three points. Now, it was indeed a very generous call in favor of the Dutch. HOWEVER, UEFA Officials had very specifically made it known to all participating 16 teams -- prior to the UEFA 2000 tournament outset -- that there would be no grace extended for any shirt pulling offenses. I agree what Mr. Craeger speaks to: We've not had one penalty called yet at this tournament with 22 games played to date. What!? Have professional footballers at this level know all become law abiding souls close to their own net? Very doubtful. The referees are perhaps setting themselves up for a 'scandalous' (okay, perhaps very controversial) decision when a referee will call a penalty for just this sort of offense, a shirt tugging. They've been too skittish to call penalties -- like the Italian defender on the Irish player in the first half yesterday? Perhaps? In that situation with the Danes, I would whistle against Badstuber every time. The players really have no business with their hands and arms all over the opponent(s) all the time. To me, the way players typically play over 90 minutes, there are usually one or two penalty situations every game. Example : The Irish player tugging away at Balotelli as Balotelli scores goal 2 for the Azzurri yesterday.

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