(Adds Danish quotes)
By David Ljunggren
LVIV, June 17 German defender Lars Bender scored
a clinical late goal to give his team a workmanlike 2-1 win over
Denmark on Sunday and secure top spot in Euro 2012 Group B.
Germany, who looked comfortable throughout and finished with
the maximum nine points, will play Greece, runners-up in Group
A, in the quarter-finals after winning all three group games at
the European Championship for the first time.
Denmark failed to qualify, losing out to Portugal who beat
the Netherlands 2-1 and will meet the Czech Republic in the last
Bender, replacing the suspended Jerome Boateng in his first
international start, benefited from poor Danish defending to run
on to a pass from Mesut Ozil and calmly slot home from close
range in the 80th minute.
"It is something special for me," Bender said. "It's a
wonderful present to come in top in this group.
"There were positive spirits out there tonight. We were
focused on getting a goal. It was a bit of luck that the ball
came to me but you don't think a lot about it, you just shoot it
Lukas Podolski scored his 44th international goal in his
100th match in the 19th minute, smacking the ball into the net
after a cross hit the boot of team mate Mario Gomez fell
perfectly into his path some 10 metres out.
Michael Krohn-Dehli levelled for Denmark in the 24th minute
with his second goal of the tournament, nodding in unmarked
after German defender Mats Hummels failed to cut out a header
into the danger zone from Nicklas Bendtner.
The Danes, who needed to win to go through, could have taken
the lead in the 51st minute but Jakob Poulsen shaved the post
from 10 metres after great set-up play from Bendtner, who was
one of Denmark's best players in the tournament.
Denmark did little else to threaten the German goal and
could easily have lost more heavily had Podolski, Thomas Mueller
and in particular Sami Khedira converted presentable first-half
Man-of-the-match Podolski, 27, became the youngest European
player to win 100 caps for his country.
Germany had the better of the first half and could have
scored in the sixth minute when Mueller scuffed a shot from
close range which keeper Stephan Andersen had to scramble to
"The coach put his faith in me and I was relatively relaxed
about it all," Bender said.
"I'm happy that I got to play tonight and crowned it was a
goal is a great present for me. The important thing is that the
team continues playing successfully and I'm happy to play."
Krohn-Dehli said he was proud of Denmark's performances.
"I am very disappointed like the rest of the team but I'm of
course proud and I think we had something to offer," he said.
"It was a difficult game and Germany came with a lot of
power. They are a good team and it's too bad we couldn't play
(Editing by Ed Osmond)