KHARKIV, Ukraine, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Germany moved closer to the last-eight berth after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in an enthralling Group B encounter in the European Championship on Wednesday.
Mario Gomez's two stylish goals in the first half put the Netherlands on the verge of an early exit despite Robin van Persie's late rebirth to deliver a fine strike.
With two wins in a row, Germany, three-time winner of the tournament, topped the so-called "Group of Death" after Portugal outscored Denmark 3-2 in the afternoon, both having collected three points.
"It's not easy. There are many hurdles in this called death group."
"Six points are very good results. We will treat the last group match like what we did. We will fight for the victory to win the group," said the Germany coach Joachim Low.
The Netherlands, who have never failed to progress from the group stage since their triumph in 1988, now have lost control of their fate and must beat Portugal in the last round with better goal difference in the group provided that Germany also beat Denmark.
"Of course we're disappointed. We were not strong in defence. But the situation is that we still have a chance to go through. When you have a chance, you have to believe and fight," said the Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.
It is another chapter of one of Europe's most enthralling footballing rivalries, who just finished their 39th time contest. Germany extended their advantageous record to 15 wins, 14 draws and 10 defeats.
The Netherlands were desperate for goals when Premier League's top scorer Robin van Persie found two clear chances in the opening ten minutes but the forward's volley and right-footed effort both missed the target.
"We started well in the first 20 minutes with a few good chances. But there was too much space for the German's goal," added by Van Marwijk.
Gomez, who headed in Germany's only goal in the 1-0 victory over Portugal in the opening match, continued his top form to break the deadlock in the 24th minute when he beat the keeper Maarten Stekelenburg calmly in the box after running onto a neat pass from Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The same Bayern Munich combination doubled the German lead after 16 minutes when Schweinsteiger fed the central forward on the right side of the area to send the ball to the top left corner.
The Netherlands had no choice and brought all their high-profile attacking talents onto the field to change the starting 4-2-3-1 formation to a more offensive 4-3-3.
Van Persie finally found his 30th-league-goal feeling in Arsenal with 17 minutes left by scoring a powerful goal from the edge of area to the bottom right corner, igniting the Dutch passions in all round attacks.
However, Germany, who are unbeaten in three games again the rival since a 3-1 friendly loss in 2002, kept the edge with solid defence.