Kharkiv, June 14
The Netherlands’ chances of qualifying for the Euro 2012 knock-out stages looked slim on Wednesday, after they lost their second straight game of the tournament in a 2-1 defeat to old rivals Germany.
Two goals from Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez put the Mannschaft ahead going into the break, as the Netherlands struggled to get in the game after a disastrous opening match defeat against Denmark at the weekend.
The Oranje gradually got more into the game, with Robin van Persie getting one back, picking up the ball in the final third and cutting inside before firing past Manuel Neuer from the edge of the box.
But it was not enough to earn his side a much-needed point.
Gomez, now joint top scorer in the tournament with Russia’s Alan Dzaegov on three said the match was a nervy affair: "But we’ve got six points against two world class teams, what more can you ask for?
"I’m really happy to have scored two goals and helped the team... but there’s a long way to go yet until the final."
In the day’s earlier match, Portugal beat Denmark 3-2 in a thrilling clash, with substitute Silvestre Varela firing home three minutes from time to give the beaten Euro 2004 finalists the points after they had let a 2-0 lead slip.
Real Madrid defender Pepe opened the Selecao’s account with a header from a corner at Stephan Andersen’s right-hand near-post, while Helder Postiga made it two with a deft flick on the opposite side.
Nicklas Bendtner got Morten Olsen’s Danes back on terms and the Scandinavians looked set for a hard-fought point after a series of glaring misses by Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even though his side made hard work of the win, Portugal coach Paulo Bento said he was satisfied.
"The important thing was the character we showed. The scoreline is fair, even if we could have won more easily," he told reporters.
Germany’s win kept them at the top of Group B on six points. Denmark and Portugal are both on three with the Dutch yet to get off the mark.
Portugal play the Netherlands in Kharkiv and Germany take on Denmark in Lviv on Saturday, with Bert van Marwijk’s Dutch needing a convincing win and Germany to beat Denmark to stand a a chance of going through.
European football’s governing body UEFA announced meanwhile that Poland and Russia were facing potential sanctions after fans let off and threw fireworks at the National Stadium during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw.
Russia were also pulled up for allowing one supporter on the pitch and displaying a far-right banner.
The announcement was the second blow for the Russian football federation, after UEFA separately threatened to dock six points from their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign if their fans misbehave again.
Fans also set off and threw fireworks and displayed potentially offensive nationalist flags during their 4-1 opening win against the Czech Republic last Friday.
The head of the Football Union of Russia (RFS), Sergei Fursenko, was quoted as saying that they would appeal the decision but called the situation "very disappointing".
The move effectively means that Russia will play for the next three-and-a-half years with the threat of a points deduction over their heads.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the violence which marred the meeting between the two sides and saw more than 180 people arrested after running battles and confrontations with riot police.
Tusk called those involved "idiots" and pledged that they would feel the full force of the law.
"The Russian president expressed his concern with the situation with Russian fans in Euro 2012," Putin’s spokesman told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency, adding: "Organisers of international competitions bear responsibility for the security of foreign fans."