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Originally published Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:11 AM

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EURO 2012 LIVE: Germany 4, Greece 2

Germany cruised past Greece 4-2 on Friday to reach the semifinal of the European Championship. Here's the best of the action and match-day excitement. All times are local to Poland.

Associated Press

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WARSAW, Poland —

Germany cruised past Greece 4-2 on Friday to reach the semifinal of the European Championship. Here's the best of the action and match-day excitement. All times are local to Poland.

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2245: On Saturday, defending champion Spain plays France at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. The winner of that match will play Portugal in the semifinal. The story tonight though belongs to Germnay. Despite coach Joachim Loew dropping Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller, Germany produced an emphatic attacking display, having 66 percent of possession and 24 shots, on their way to securing a semifinal spot. On another day it could have been more for the Germans but it will take a very, very good display from any side remaining in the competition to beat them.

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2241: Germany advances to the semifinals and rightly so, despite the best efforts of Greece, especially in the second half. Philipp Lahm gave Germany the lead in a dominant performance in the opening 45 minutes before Samaras levelled it for Greece after the break with a shock goal. A brilliant volley from Khedira gave Germany the lead again before Klose made sure with a header. Reus volleyed in to rival teammate Khedira for goal of the game before a late Salpigidis penalty meant Greece exit the tournament with their pride intact.

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2238: FULL-TIME: Germany 4, Greece 2.

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2237: The cross from the left by Torosidis hits Boateng on the arm and gives the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Salpigidis steps up and slots the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, sending Neuer the wrong way. No more than a consolation goal for Greece.

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2234: GOAL! Germany 4, Greece 2 (Salpigidis).

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2228: Oezil nearly gets the fifth for Germany, tricking his way past two Greek defenders on his way into the penalty area before shooting, but it is straight at Sifakis. Oezil is still without a goal at Euro 2012, but went close there.

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2225: Mario Gomez, joint top scorer for the tournament, is on for Miroslav Klose and Mario Goetze replaces Marco Reus.

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2223: Klose is threaded through by Oezil but his shot at goal is blocked by Sifakis. The ball loops up in the air though before dropping perfectly for Reus, who smashes the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

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2219: GOAL! Germany 4, Greece 1 (Reus).

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2218: PhillipsIan: RT (at)TamerFakahany: That's it: Helas for Hellas! Germany power on ready to put England or Italy to the sword (via Twitter).

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2216: Disastrous defending from Greece and they've conceded again. A free kick from the right is crossed into the center and Klose, who is so powerful in the air, rises above the Greek defense and flicks into an empty net. Goalkeeper Sifakis had rushed out of his goal to try and punch the ball away, but got nowhere near the ball. Germany has surely secured its path into the semifinal now.

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2213: GOAL! Germany 3, Greece 1 (Klose).

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2210: Magnificent goal by Khedira and Germany has the lead again thanks to his ferocious strike. The ball comes in from the right by Oezil, over the head of Klose but into the path of Khedira, who volleys the ball on the run into the net, past the despairing hand of Sifakis.

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2206: GOAL! Germany 2, Greece 1 (Khedira).

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2203: Unbelievable! Greece, outplayed significantly in the first half, has clawed itself level against Germany. Salpingidis is played away down the right and escapes Philipp Lahm. The Greek striker sends over a perfectly-weighted cross and finds Samaras, who gets ahead of Boateng in the center and prods the ball underneath Neuer and into the net. Incredible scenes and the Greeks, somehow, are back in this.

2200: GOAL! Germany 1, Greece 1 (Samaras).

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2159: From AP photographer Michael Sohn, pitchside: German fans are singing, 'We paid for your tickets!'

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2151: The players are out for the second half and Germany will get it underway. Two half time changes for Greece, Fanis Gekas and Giorgis Fotakis for Ninis and Tzavellas.

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2137: The statistics don't lie: Germany had 70 percent of possession in the first half. And look at this: Passes completed by the Germans - 344. Greece? 78. Germany has the lead and the mystery is how it is only by one goal. They have been by far the better side, dominating from the very first minute and have created numerous chances.

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HALF-TIME: Germany 1, Greece 0.

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2130: Germany continues its dominance as it looks to double its lead before half time. Schuerrle cuts in from the left and tries to curl a shot goalwards, but his attempt is deflected out for a corner, which Greece manages to clear.

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2128: It's a fantastic goal from Lahm, but Greece's defending here is abject to say the least. He receives the ball on the left from Khedira and chests the ball down, skips forward and releases a swerving, dipping shot from outside the penalty area into the far corner of the net. Siafkis got a fingertip to it, but the shot was too powerful for him to push it round the post. The Greeks are punished for standing off the left back and Germany deservedly has the lead.

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2124: GOAL! Germany 1, Greece 0 (Lahm).

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2119: Germany coach Joachim Loew looks furious on the sideline at how wasteful his side has been so far, after Reus fires another effort wide from the edge of the penalty area. Is he worried that his decision to drop Podolski, Gomez and Mueller will come back to haunt him?

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2111: This could be a long night for the Greeks. They're pinned back in their half and the Germans are coming forward in waves but just can't hit the target. Klose comes very close to scoring but can't quite stretch far enough to connect with a cross right in front of goal. Merkel, in the stands, has her hands over her mouth looking at that latest missed chance.

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2105: gdunbarap: Torrential rain this morning in Gdansk and most seems to have fallen in the Greece penalty area. Slippery and cutting up badly (via Twitter).

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2102: Giorgos Samaras has become the first player to be shown a yellow card tonight after three robust challenges. He ploughed through Khedira twice before clipping the ankle of Schweinsteiger, and he is eventually booked by the referee with the German captain down and in pain.

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2059: Reus now goes close for Germany. Khedira picks out his forward with a neat first-time through ball and Reus lets fly with a left-footed shot, but drags it wide of the near post.

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2053: The ball is in the back of the net already for Germany, but Klose's effort is ruled out for offside. Khedira hits a low shot at goal from far out and Sofakis spills it out to the midfielder running into the area in anticipation of a mistake, but the flag is raised as the German captain pokes the ball in. Sofakis got clattered as he tried to claim the ball back and is down for a few minutes, but will be OK to continue. Very bright start from Germany, who are passing the ball around nicely.

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2045: And they're underway. Both sets of fans respectfully listen to the national anthems. Tension? What tension?

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2035: Derek Gatopoulos, AP's reporter with the Greek team: "The Greek fans were first to appear in force, a block of about 500 arrived chanting 'Hellas, Hellas'. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly friendly. Again, many Greek fans appear to have traveled from Germany and there were loud boos from them as the German players ran onto the pitch to warm up. They unfurled a giant flag but it was upside down, so they rolled it back up again."

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1955: German coach Joachim Loew must be confident of getting a result tonight! He's dropped his three main forwards, including leading striker Mario Gomez who is replaced by veteran Miroslav Klose. Loew also drops Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller, giving Andre Schuerrle and Marco Reus their first starts at the tournament. A fourth change sees Jerome Boateng return as right back after serving a one-match suspension, with Lars Bender returning to the bench.

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1950: Tonight's teams:

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Phillipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinstiger, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schuerrle, Marco Reus, Miroslav Klose.

Greece: Michalis Sifakis, Giannis Maniatis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis, Giorgos Tzavellas, Konstantinos Katsouranis, Grigoris Makos, Sotiris Ninis, Dimitrios Salpingidis, Georgios Samaras.

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1930: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in the stadium tonight, sitting next to UEFA chief Michel Platini. I wonder how the Greek fans will react when her image is - inevitably - beamed up onto the big screen. The new prime minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, won't be traveling. "The prime minister is a football fanatic and will be watching the game on television," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said. He is also due to undergo eye surgery on Saturday.

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1900: Less than two hours to go until the most politically-charged match of Euro 2012 - and it couldn't have been scripted better. Greece, whose economy has imploded, is up against Germany, which has insisted on deep austerity cuts in return for bailout funds. So much to play for tonight in terms of national pride. The Germans are overwhelming favorites, but the Greeks will be raring to go.

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1845: There is a huge German contingent in Gdansk, but the Greeks are making some serious noise. And the build-up to the match has been peaceful and vibrant around the city.

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1830: The Berlin Morgenpost runs the headline: "Dear Greeks, we're not helping you today!" Inside, there's a cartoon showing a Greek player wearing a German shirt with Germany written across the chest, saying "We're Greece - They're just our sponsors."

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1820: In Germany, the best-selling daily Bild led with: "Bye bye Greece; we can't rescue you today."

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1815: The Greek press is in overdrive for tonight's match. Sports paper 'Derby' shows an ancient Greek warrior clad in full armor and clutching a spear in mid-stride as if charging at the reader, with the headline 'Molon Lave' meaning 'Come and Take it' - Spartan king Leonidas' famous retort to Xerxes' call to surrender in the battle of Thermopylae.

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1800: From AP's Graham Dunbar in Gdansk: "On Friday, thousands of fans from the two nations at opposite ends of the Eurozone financial crisis are converging on neutral Polish turf for a European Championship quarterfinal match. For Greece fans, Friday's clash in rainy Gdansk inevitably mixes sports and politics, Euro 2012 and the euro currency. They seek respect for their country after its humiliating economic collapse - and the German government's role in imposing austerity measures."

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