Germany cruise into quarter-finals
After grinding out its third straight win with a 2-1 victory against Denmark on Sunday, Germany finished on top of a group that didn't end up being as dangerous as it looked on paper.
World Cup finalist the Netherlands was a major disappointment, losing all three Group B matches. Cristiano Ronaldo found his form just in the nick of time to take Portugal to the quarterfinals as runner-up to Germany.
And Denmark just wasn't up to the task of repeating its upset from 20 years ago, when it stunned Germany to win the European Championship.
"I think we had the game well under control," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "We had a lot of possession and I was sure that we would score and advance."
Germany next faces Euro 2004 champion Greece on Friday in Gdansk in a clash with significance beyond football, bringing together the two main protagonists - and occasional foes - in Europe's financial crisis.
If Germany and defending champion Spain keep winning, they will meet in the final on July 1.
Lukas Podolski opened the scoring for Germany in the 19th minute and Lars Bender slotted home the winner in the 80th after Michael Krohn-Dehli had equalized for Denmark in the first half.
"It's absolutely a day of joy," Bender said. "I'll be thinking back to this day a long, long time. We have a positive spirit in the team."
Germany played without flair, but controlled possession and were never really challenged by the Danes, who go home after stunning the Netherlands in the first match but losing to Portugal in the second.
Seizing the initiative from the kickoff, the Germans came close twice before Podolski, playing his 100th international match, scored his first goal of the tournament.
Mario Gomez set him up with a deft backheel touch following Thomas Mueller's low cross from the right flank.
"It was a special occasion to mark my 100th cap with a goal," Podolski said. "But the most important thing is that we are through to the knockout stage."