GDANSK, Poland - Germany booked their place in the last four of Euro 2012 as Joachim Loew’s side hammered Greece 4-2 on Friday after dominating their quarter-final.
Germany ran riot as captain Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, veteran striker Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus all got on the score-sheet to cancel out Giorgos Samaras’ and Dimitris Salpingidis’ second-half strikes for the Greeks.
Germany will now play England or Italy, who meet in Sunday’s Kiev quarter-final, in the semi-final at Warsaw’s National Stadium on Thursday as they inflicted Greece’s heaviest defeat at a European championships.
It eclipsed the Greeks’ 3-1 defeat at the hands of Czechoslovakia in 1980.
The Germans dominated at Arena Gdansk with 700 first-half passes completed compared to the Greeks 70 and the Germans’ ball possession never dropped below 60 percent.
Greece coach Fernando Santos brought in Grigoris Makos for suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis, who scored the winning goal against Russia which put the Euro 2004 winners in the last eight, with midfielder Kostas Katsouranis named as skipper.
Loew pulled off a pre-match triple surprise by leaving out striker Mario Gomez, plus forwards Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller in a bold move.
Klose won his 120th cap to come in for Gomez to claim his 64th international goal leaving him just four short of Gerd Mueller’s all-time Germany record.
Borussia Dortmund-bound Reus capped his first Euro 2012 appearance with a goal at Mueller’s expense to win only his seventh cap while Bayer Leverkusen’s Andre Schuerrle took Lukas Podolski’s place on the left wing.
The Germans had the ball in the net after only four minutes as Khedira’s shot was only parried by Greek goalkeeper Michaelis Sifakis, who was soon beaten, but Schuerrle was flagged for offside.
Celtic‘s Samaras earned the first booking when he ran his boot down the back of Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger’s ankle on 14 minutes while Sotiris Ninis forced Germany’s Manuel Neuer into a rare save on 31 minutes.
With the Germans enjoying 70 percent ball possession, the goal they had been threatening came on 39 minutes when Lahm burst through the left side of the Greek defence and fired home from the edge of the area.
It was a carbon copy of the goal Lahm scored against Costa Rica, the first of the 2006 World Cup, and his fifth for his country on his 90th appearance.
Greece coach Fernando Santos added an extra forward after the break with Sotiris Ninis making way for Fanis Gekas and midfielder Giorgos Fotakis on for defender Giorgos Tzavellas.
The switch paid off when Samaras slipped his marker Jerome Boateng to bundle the ball home from the cross of Salpingidis, who outpaced Lahm on the right flank on 55 minutes.
But Germany reclaimed the lead thanks to a volley from Real Madrid’s Khedira whose late run connected with Boateng’s cross to leave Sifakis with no chance.
Klose added to his impressive tally with a header from a Ozil free-kick on 68 minutes, while Reus scored the fourth when Klose latched onto Ozil’s pass, forcing Sifakis into a save.
But the ball fell to the Dortmund man, who hit the net on 74 minutes.
With time almost up Salpingidis scored from the penalty spot after Boateng’s foul, but it was too little, too late.