Germany survived a scare and a strong Danish penalty shout to win 2-1 and reach the quarter-finals to take on Greece.
Group B was meant to be the Group of Death and it lived up to expectations, as going into the final round all four teams had the chance to either go through or go home. That included Germany, who had won both their games so far, but were still not entirely safe. Jerome Boateng was suspended, so Lars Bender stepped in as make-shift right-back. Jakob Poulsen replaced the injured Dennis Rommedahl in the Danish five-man midfield.
Thomas Muller wasted an early opportunity by firing straight at the goalkeeper, but the pressure paid off with Lukas Podolski breaking the deadlock. It was rolled across by Muller and flicked on by Mario Gomez to Podolski to fire in unmarked from eight yards, a fine way to mark his 100th appearance for Germany.
The lead lasted only five minutes before Michael Krohn-Dehli snatched an equaliser to keep the Danes in the race for the quarter-finals. A corner was nodded back in by Nicklas Bendtner for a precise Krohn-Dehli header from close range.
Mesut Ozil’s cross was put out for a corner, from which Gomez wasted another chance in acres of space. As things stood, and with Portugal 1-1 Holland at half-time, Germany and Portugal would go through to the quarter-finals.
Denmark pushed forward with Daniel Agger and Simon Poulsen combining, then Bendtner laying off for Jakob Poulsen’s strike to skim the upright.
Substitute Andre Schurrle got down the left and forced Stephan Anderson into a tricky save with his angled drive across the face of goal. News filtered through that Portugal were leading Holland 2-1, so a Danish winner would knock Germany out.
There was a real scare for the Germans when Bendtner was pulled back by Holger Badstuber just as he was pulling the trigger, but the referee waved away strong penalty appeals.
The warning was heeded and Germany restored their advantage with Bender 10 minutes from time. Ozil had sparked the counter-attack down the left and Lazio’s Miroslav Klose failed to connect, but the pass kept going to find Bender at the back post.
Denmark 1-2 Germany
Scorers: Podolski 19 (G), Krohn-Dehli 24 (D), Bender 80 (G)
Denmark: Andersen; Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, S Poulsen; Kvist; Eriksen, J Poulsen (Mikkelsen 82), Zimling (C Poulsen 79), Krohn-Delhi; Bendtner
Germany: Neuer; Bender, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Muller (Kroos 84), Ozil, Podolski (Schurrle 62); Gomez (Klose 73)
Ref: Carballo (Spa)