Germans keep their cool to set record
LVIV (Reuters) - Germany have often in recent years shown they can play fast and furious but on Sunday they displayed another quality not necessarily associated with Joachim Loew's team.
They were cool.
In the 2-1 win over Denmark that sent the Germans into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals to face Greece, they showed they can operate under tournament pressure even when their qualification is on the line despite two opening group wins.
It was also the first time the Germans completed a European Championship group stage with a perfect record. Loew's team had already set a German record in qualifying, winning all 10 games.
"There is a certain maturing process that has happened so far in this tournament," a relieved Loew said. "We were not quite so good with the overall organisation. The team has gone through a good development process."
It was that process that helped them maintain their composure after taking a 19th-minute lead through Lukas Podolski and conceding an equaliser five minutes later.
It was far from their best performance with the defence leaking at times, playmaker Mesut Ozil putting in another mediocre performance and forward Mario Gomez lacking his usual spark.
With Portugal leading 2-1 against the Dutch in the other group game, another Danish goal would have sent the Germans packing.
Instead of panicking as their press officer, watching the Dutch game on TV in the media tribune, relayed the bad news to the bench, Loew's team kept their cool and got on with the job.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira reduced the pace in the second half, taking the edge off the game as the Danes, needing a win to advance, looked for every opportunity to come forward.
Lars Bender, who replaced suspended right back Jerome Boateng and started a game for Germany for the first time, made sure hardly any attacking moves came down his flank.
Defender Mats Hummels also stoically shrugged off his poor defending for the Danish equaliser to shut down the centre in another calm display following a nervous start.
In a warning to quarter-final opponents Greece, Germany, instead of buckling under pressure, scored the winner in the 80th with Bender slotting in an Ozil pass to dash any lingering Danish hopes.
"Every match in this group was difficult," said captain Philipp Lahm. "But when you get three wins in three matches then you have marched through the group."
It may not have been pretty but it was cool.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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