Germany triumph over weak Holland
KHARKIV - Two superb first-half goals by red-hot striker Mario Gomez earned Germany a 2-1 victory over a disappointing Netherlands in Euro 2012 Group B yesterday to put the winners in sight of the quarterfinals.
Gomez, who also scored in the opening 1-0 win over Portugal, produced a neat turn and shot after a clever Bastian Schweinsteiger through ball in the 24th minute and, fed by the same player, fired in a fierce second after 38.
The Dutch, beaten 1-0 by Denmark in their opener, were poor for long spells but hit back with a superb 20-metre shot by forward Robin van Persie in the 73rd minute.
Germany top the standings on six points but are still not yet sure of qualifying ahead of their final game against Denmark.
Portugal and Denmark have three points each after Portugal's 3-2 victory over the Danes earlier yesterday. The Netherlands have no points but could still qualify.
lSpain coach Vicente del Bosque insisted yesterday his side's morale is high as the defending champions prepare to take on Ireland in today's Euro 2012 Group C clash after their rather laboured opening 1-1 draw with Italy.
"Our morale is intact. I think we are in a good moment and in a good position following the draw with Italy," Del Bosque said.
He said his men would respect an Irish side coached by wily Italian Giovanni Trapattoni - despite their loss to Croatia.
"We have to prepare ourselves for the difficulties they will set us and not underestimate them," said the former Real Madrid manager, who led Spain to the 2010 World Cup trophy.
"If we look at past results there was never a really clear Spanish victory against Ireland. I don't think they will get everybody back behind the ball the whole game. They know how to attack and have some talented players.
"Ireland have more weapons than their aerial game. They play a lot of football down the flanks, are good and aggressive in defence and up front.
"We know what we are up against," he said, saying his men would get their heads down and look for the win which eluded them against the Italians.
Italy made use of their right not to have the Gdansk pitch watered before the opening match and the Spanish, playing without a recognised centre forward, found the going hard on a dry pitch with long grass.
Del Bosque was pleased to hear that the Irish had accepted the pitch be watered beforehand as they themselves wanted a fast surface.
"I don't think this debate is about whether it is good for us [to have a faster surface]. It is good for football and also benefits the spectator."
He asserted that midfield star Xavi Hernandez was fit despite having been troubled recently by a calf strain.
Italy take on Croatia in another Group C match today.