Super Mario makes Dutch despair
Holland are clinging to the hope of qualifying for the knockout stages of Euro 2012 after suffering a 2-1 defeat by Germany.
Last Updated: 14/06/12 8:30am
Holland are clinging to the hope of qualifying for the knockout stages of Euro 2012 after suffering a 2-1 defeat by Germany in Kharkiv on Wednesday night.
Two first-half Mario Gomez goals did the damage to Bert van Marwijk's side, who must now defeat Portugal in their final Group B game to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
Having lost to Denmark in their opening game, Holland, 2010 World Cup finalists and pre-tournament contenders to win Euro 2012, must also hope Germany can do them a favour against the Danes.
Robin van Persie gave the Oranje contingent something to cheer with a long-range effort in the second half but there is a familiar sense of typical self-destruction from the unravelling Dutch.
With Rafael van der Vaart earlier in the week having questioned Van Marwijk's decision to only use him as a substitute, Holland saw Arjen Robben strop off of the pitch when being replaced by in the second half against Germany.
Joachim Low's defeated finalists from Euro 2008 now only need a point against Portugal to reach the knockout stages, while Holland need an incredible turnaround.
Van Marwijk's men had shaded the opening exchanges, with Van Persie shooting straight at Manuel Neuer as he sought to atone for a series of missed chances in the Dutch defeat by Denmark.
No killer instinct
Mesut Ozil responded for Germany with a ninth minute volley which struck the base of Maarten Stekelenburg's left-hand post before the ball was gathered by the grateful Dutch goalkeeper.
Arsenal captain Van Persie was looking lively but still lacking killer instinct, and another opportunity went begging when Ibrahim Afellay's cross towards the striker was crucially intercepted by Mats Hummels.
Gomez, who scored the winner against Portugal, put Germany ahead in the 24th minute with an excellent finish after Bastian Schweinsteiger's through-ball cut the Dutch defence in two. Gomez turned and fired the opener low to Stekelenburg's right.
Arjen Robben slammed a long-range effort straight at Neuer as Dutch frustration began to tell, although they were secure in the knowledge they could not face elimination due to Portugal's earlier win over Denmark.
It was just as well, as the Germans continued to exploit glaring weaknesses in the Dutch defence, particularly down the right flank, and Holger Badstuber should have made it 2-0 in the 37th minute when he headed straight at Stekelenburg from point-blank range.
But one minute later, Germany did have their second from another move originating on the right, Schweinsteiger playing in Gomez who looked up and slammed an unstoppable shot across the shot-stopper from a tight angle.
Germany almost made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when Schweinsteiger's free-kick struck Robben and looked set to loop into the top corner only to be brilliantly tipped over by Stekelenburg.
Van Marwijk introduced both Klaus-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart at the break but the Germans continued to press, with Hummels denied by Stekelenburg twice in a matter of seconds seven minutes after the re-start.
With the Dutch forced to push forward, they also had chances, with Robben seeing his drive deflected over by Philipp Lahm, then Robben crossing from the left to Van Persie whose powerful low drive was well saved by Neuer.
Holland came even closer to reducing the deficit in the 62nd minute when Wesley Sneijder left fly from outside the box and saw his drive flash inches wide of Neuer's left-hand post with the goalkeeper beaten.
Another Schneijder effort was blocked in the box by Jerome Boateng with a suspicion of handball, before the Dutch pressure paid off with Van Persie finally breaking his Euro 2012 deadlock in style.
The striker turned and drifted across from the left flank before drilling a brilliant finish past Neuer from the edge of the box with his weaker right foot to give his side hope with 17 minutes of the match still to play.
The Dutch were suddenly dominant, with Van Persie having a penalty appeal waved away before Robben expressed his frustration at being substituted by exiting the pitch on the far side of the field in front of the Dutch fans.But their push for an equaliser was almost undone in the 89th minute when Stekelenburg made a mighty hash of a back-pass and almost presented German substitute Miroslav Klose with the simplest of chances to wrap things up.
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|7||Shots off Target||3|
|59.5||1st Half Poss.||40.5|
|46.5||2nd Half Poss.||53.5|