Germany, Portugal into quartersAgence France-Presse . Kharkiv
Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 on Sunday to set up a Euro 2012 quarter-final with the Czech Republic and condemn the Dutch to a first group-stage European Championship exit since 1980.
Needing to win by two clear goals to stand any hope of progressing, Holland took an early lead through Rafael van der Vaart but were undone by goals in each half from man of the match Cristiano Ronaldo.
From a Dutch perspective, the final score was rendered immaterial as Denmark’s 2-1 loss to Germany in the other Group B match meant they would not have qualified for the last eight even in case of victory.
Portugal, for whom Ronaldo belatedly reproduced his Real Madrid form at this tournament, will compete for a semi-final place against the Czechs in Warsaw on Thursday.
Runners-up at the World Cup two years ago and top scorers in qualifying, the Netherlands leave Ukraine with their tails between their legs after three consecutive defeats.
Mindful of the pressing need for goals, Holland coach Bert van Marwijk handed starts to both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and van der Vaart, who replaced captain Mark van Bommel and inherited the captain’s armband from him.
Van der Vaart needed less than 11 minutes to vindicate his manager’s decision, collecting a pass from Arjen Robben and shaping a delightful 25-yard shot inside the left-hand post to put Holland ahead.
However, if the Dutch thought they were in for a comfortable evening, Portugal quickly had them on their toes with a flurry of chances sparked by Ronaldo drifting inside and brushing the post with a low strike.
Holland failed to heed the warnings though, and in the 28th minute Ronaldo levelled, powering onto Joao Pereira’s incisive, stabbed pass and clipping the ball past Stekelenburg from close range.
Strangely, scoring the opening goal seemed to have inhibited the Dutch, and they were cowed even further by Ronaldo’s equaliser.
The Madrid man was not so forgiving when Nani returned the favour in the 74th minute, checking inside sharply to send van der Wiel sprawling and then calmly beating Stekelenburg at his near post.
Meanwhile, German defender Lars Bender scored a late goal to give Germany 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.
Denmark failed to qualify, losing out to Portugal who beat the Netherlands 2-1 and will meet the Czech Republic in the last eight.
Bender 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.
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 leveled 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.
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