Germany coach Joachim Loew hailed his team’s landmark achievement after they defeated Greece to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
Loew has guided Germany to the last four of three successive international tournaments, and he served as assistant to Juergen Klinsmann when the team reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 2006.
They swept past Greece with a comfortable 4-2 win in Gdansk on Friday, and will now take on Italy or England for a place in the final.
“It is an achievement of class by this team (to have reached a semi-final for the fourth consecutive time). I think we all can be proud of this team,” Loew told ZDF.
Greece came from behind to level at 1-1 in the 55th minute of the match at the PGA Arena, before Germany scored three times to pull away in the second half.
They did concede a penalty in the 88th minute, allowing Greece to add respectability to the score-line.
“This team (Greece) again had one chance and scored two goals,” Loew said.
“We missed out on scoring in the beginning. But we kept going and scored later. It was important that we showed a reaction after (being pulled back to) 1-1.
Loew pulled a selection surprise by dropping Mario Gomez, Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski for Miroslav Klose, Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus.
The gamble paid dividends, with Klose and Reus both finding the back of the net, while Schurrle impressed and had a goal ruled out for offside.
Real Madrid pair Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil were retained in midfield, and the former produced a dynamic strike to put his side 2-1 ahead soon after Greece’s equaliser.
“It was a day of changes,” Loew said.
“After three wins in a row, I had the feeling I had to change something and bring some fresh air into the team. It was the time to change something.
“Khedira is having an unbelievably good run. He trains well, he always wants to have the ball. His team-mates feel that and they trust him. Oezil played with absolute class. He made very good runs and he managed to give the right impulses for the team.
Loew was reluctant to comment when asked which of Italy or England he would rather face in the last four: “That is pretty hard to say.”
“England plays a lot more disciplined than in 2010 for example and Italy is always a difficult opponent. It doesn’t matter who (progresses).”
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