Mario Gomez hit a sensational brace as Germany sent rivals Holland to a second consecutive defeat despite Robin Van Persie’s late strike.
This has always been a bitter grudge match and a lot was at stake too after a shock Dutch defeat to Denmark in the opening game. Other results meant that if Germany lost this match, all four Group B teams would go into the final round with three points. As things stand, Holland can still qualify if they beat Portugal, Denmark lose and the Dutch have a superior goal difference between the three sides. The Germans will go through with a point.
Joachim Low made no changes to the side that squeezed past Portugal 1-0, but Joris Mathijsen shook off an injury to replace Ron Vlaar in the Dutch defence.
Van Persie fired straight at the goalkeeper in the opening minutes when sent clear, then Mesut Ozil’s effort came off the upright and into the grateful arms of Maarten Stekelenburg.
It was Germany who broke the deadlock when Thomas Muller cut in from the right, then Bastian Schweinsteiger threaded through for Gomez to spin just inside the box and sweep past the on-rushing Stekelenburg. It was smart movement and skill from the Bayern Munich striker.
Germany really should’ve been 2-0 up on 37 minutes with a free kick finding the totally unmarked Holger Badstuber from six yards, but his header was straight at Roma shot-stopper Stekelenburg.
That was only a warning, as 60 seconds later another well-worked move saw Schweinsteiger again roll through the Dutch defence for Gomez to smash a powerful angled drive across the goal into the far top corner.
It was almost 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, as a free kick was deflected off Arjen Robben and Stekelenburg had to acrobatically flap it out from under the bar.
The Dutch were in dire straits and made two changes for the second half, introducing Rafael Van Der Vaart and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Matters in defence did not improve, as Mats Hummels had a double chance parried by Stekelenburg.
At the other end, Manuel Neuer was finally tested by Van Persie’s first-time shot from the edge of the box on Robben’s assist, palming it out of the bottom corner.
Inter star Wesley Sneijder curled a dangerous strike that skimmed the far post, then Robben went on a strong run and rolled across for Sneijder’s snapshot, blocked bravely by Jerome Boateng’s ribs.
Holland were beginning to increase the pressure and it paid off on 73 minutes with Van Persie making up for a series of early errors. The Juventus transfer target cut in from the left and unleashed a right-foot screamer into the far bottom corner past Neuer’s outstretched hand.
Nigel De Jong needed a last-ditch tackle in the box as Ozil was preparing to pull the trigger, while Van Persie had timid penalty appeals waved away as he ran into traffic. Robben was substituted late on and showed his displeasure by leaving the field over the advertising boards and taking off his jersey.
Stekelenburg almost gave away an incredible goal in the final minute when he tripped over a backpass and Lazio hitman Miroslav Klose dived in, but the Roma goallie was able to scramble it away.
Holland 1-2 Germany
Scorers: Gomez 24, 38 (G), Van Persie 73 (H)
Holland: Stekelenburg; Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems; N De Jong, Van Bommel (Van Der Vaart 46); Robben (Kuyt 83), Sneijder, Afellay (Huntelaar 46); Van Persie
Germany: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; T Muller (Bender 92), Ozil (Kroos 81), Podolski; Gomez (Klose 72)
Ref: Eriksson (Swe)