Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger put together an absolutely brilliant 25-minute spell of football for Germany on Wednesday night, and it was all that their team needed from them. Germany were not good in the first 20 minutes of their match against the Netherlands and were the inferior side in the second half, but they took advantage of the porous Dutch backline on two occasions, which was good enough to bag a 2-1 win.
Both goals were scored by Gomez, assisted by Schweinsteiger, and conceded in horrific fashion by the Dutch. On both the 24th and 38th minute goals, Schweinsteiger was left completely alone in the center of midfield before he found the feet of Gomez, who applied great finishes. They were two of just five shots on target and 11 total shots for the Germans, but the Netherlands made enough mistakes on both ends that it was all Die Mannschaft needed to win the match.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Bert van Marwijk made a couple of bold changes that he probably should have made before the match started. Rafael Van der Vaart and Klass-Jan Huntelaar entered the match for Mark van Bommel and Ibrahim Afellay, giving the Dutch a much more attacking look. They played considerably better in the second half than they did in the first half, but they couldn't get all the way out of the 2-0 hole they dug for themselves.
It took a while for the Netherlands' changes to settle in, and before doing so the Dutch gifted Mats Hummels a couple of good opportunities early in the half. He was allowed to come forward uncontested and had two shots saved by Maarten Stekelenberg back-to-back in the 52nd minute. That appeared to be a bit of a wake-up call for the Dutch, who began to play better from that point forward.
Manuel Neuer made a big save on Robin van Persie in the 58th minute, but the Arsenal striker would eventually get the better of him. It took until the 73rd minute, but van Persie finally showed exactly why he's first choice for the Oranje ahead of Huntelaar with a stellar right-footed strike from 25 yards out, powered past Neuer. That shot got the Netherlands back into the game, but they would never create a better chance.
Wesley Sneijder was brilliant throughout the game, while van Persie was very useful as a passer for much of the contest. Both Huntelaar and Arjen Robben were incredibly wasteful throughout the night. Robben, in particular, was the Netherlands' least effective attacking player and was very unhappy when van Marwijk substituted him for Dirk Kuyt in the 83rd minute.
Stekelenberg almost robbed his team of a chance to fight for a stoppage time equalizer when he misplayed a ball into his feet and nearly allowed substitute striker Miroslav Klose to score. The Dutch keeper scrambled to recover the ball just as Klose was beginning to put a foot to it. That saved embarrassment, but the Dutch never challenged Neuer's goalmouth in the closing minutes.
The Netherlands have not been eliminated from Euro 2012, but they have a lot of work to do. They need to defeat Portugal in the final game of the round and hope that Denmark loses to Germany, while also winning by enough to have the best goal differential among the three teams tied on three points apiece.