Germany top Group B of Euro 2012 after 2-1 win over Denmark
Lars Bender scores late winner for the Germans
Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice as Portugal beat Netherlands 2-1
Favored Dutch exit without a point along with Denmark
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 to book their passage to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 behind Group B winners Germany who saw off Denmark by the same score.
Ronaldo’s goals sunk the 2010 World Cup runners-up who exited the competition without gaining a single point.
Germany will play Greece in the quarterfinals with Portugal taking on Group A winners Czech Republic.
Group B was labeled the “Group of Death” when the draw was made and lived up to its billing as the four teams provided an enthralling finale.
The Dutch, who never recovered from a shock 1-0 defeat to Denmark in their opener, were given early hope when Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart put them ahead.
But Real Madrid ace Ronaldo finally lived up to his star billing with goals in each half in Kharkiv to secure his side’s passage.
Germany went into their match in Lviv as heavy favorites and were given a 19th minute lead by Lukas Podolski, winning his 100th cap.
But Michael Krohn-Dehlim, who scored against the Dutch in the opener, equalized five minutes later.
Lars Bender scored his first goal for Germany with 10 minutes remaining to preserve their 100 per cent record.
“That was my first start (for Germany), so it was something special,” Bender told AFP.
“We were trying to get that second goal, I just saw the goal in front of me and it was a bit lucky,” he added.
Germany 2-1 Denmark
Germany, who went into the final group match off the back of two wins, started brightly and only a fine save by Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen kept out an early Thomas Mueller drive.
Germany came even closer when top scorer Mario Gomez fluffed a clear chance in front of goal.
But the miss did appear to matter as Mueller crossed and Gomez left it for Podolski to score his 44th international goal.
But the lead was shortlived as Sunderland’s Niklas Bendtner headed on a corner for Krohn-Dehli to apply the finishing touch.
Denmark looked the more likely side to score after the break and Jakub Poulson clipped the post after an excellent move.
Bendtner, always a threat, might have won a penalty for the Danes after appearing to be pulled back by Holger Badstuber, but the appeals were waived away.
With a draw looking the likely result, Mesut Ozil squared for right-back Bender to beat Andersen with a cool finish.
Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
Ronaldo had gone into his side’s crunch match with the Dutch without scoring a goal in the two earlier group matches and smarting at criticism of his performances.
The early signs did not look promising as Arjen Robben set up Van der Vaart to steer a perfect finish into the bottom left corner of the Portugal goal on 11 minutes.
But after Helder Postiga had nearly leveled, Ronaldo finally got on the Euro scoresheet as he ran on to Joao Pereira’s fine pass to beat Maarten Stekelenburg.
“This is for you my son,” the 27-year-old was seen to mouth at television cameras after his 28th minute strike.
Ronaldo proved a constant menace to the Dutch defense but early in the second half Portugal survived a scare after Wesley Sneijder crossed from the left for the unmarked Ron Vlaar to waste the chance.
Stekelenburg was forced into a superb point-blank save from Nani, who had been set up by Ronaldo.
The pair combined again for the eventual winner as Manchester United’s Nani fed his former club teammate again.
The Real Madrid star checked and cut inside before easily beating Stekelenburg.
Van der Vaart hit the woodwork for the Dutch, but Ronaldo himself was then denied in the same fashion as he chased a deserved hat-trick.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk was left to contemplate another defeat and an unexpected exit.
“You saw that when we concede a goal, the uncertainty remains. If we’d scored a second, we might have been more sure of ourselves, but we didn’t take our chances,” he said.