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EURO 2016

Dominant Germany ease past Slovakia into quarterfinals

Germany made serene progress in their quest to add the European crown to their world title despite a missed penalty. Julian Draxler sparkled in a 3-0 win over Slovakia that set up a last-eight clash with Spain or Italy.

Germany dominated from the start on a sunny evening in Lille and were ahead in the eighth minute when Boateng’s well-struck volley took a slight deflection on its way into the bottom corner past Slovakia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.

It was the towering centre back’s first international goal on his 63rd appearance and he ran straight to the German medical team, who have been treating him for a calf injury in recent days, to celebrate.

Joachim Löw’s side should have been two ahead five minutes later when Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel conceded a penalty for a foul on Gomez.

Mesut Ozil hit his effort firmly but Kozacik leaped to his left to parry the ball away. It was the first time Germany have missed a penalty at a European Championship, including shootouts, since Uli Hoeneß in the 1976 final.

First genuine chance

Ozil thumped a half-volley narrowly wide in the 24th minute before Slovakia had their first genuine scoring chance in the 41st minute.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer pulled off a superb diving save to keep out a Juraj Kucka header that was heading for the top corner.

Draxler was the architect of Germany’s second goal two minutes later.

The Wolfsburg winger drove to the byline and fed Gomez who clipped the ball past Kozacik for his 29th international goal.

The Besiktas striker equaled the record for goals at a European Championship of five set by former Germany forward Jürgen Klinsmann.

Germany’s dominance was such in the first half that they had 15 goal attempts, the most by any team so far at the tournament in France.

However, it was Slovakia who threatened first in the second period, Kucka hammering a shot straight at Neuer in the 49th minute.

More of the ball

Slovakia were seeing a lot more of the ball without really threatening Neuer’s goal with Germany content to sit back and wait for a chance to counter attack.

Draxler, given the nod by Löw ahead of Mario Götze, had been Germany’s standout player and he was rewarded in the 63rd minute with his first competitive goal for Die Mannschaft.

Mats Hummels won a header at a corner and Draxler was on hand to hook the looping, loose ball into the roof of the net from close range.

The 22-year-old was given a deserved ovation by the German fans when he was replaced by Lukas Podolski with around 20 minutes left.

"It was a great day for me and the team and I am happy to be able to make a contribution," Draxler told ZDF television.

"I wanted to demonstrate again that I am a viable option and I am grateful to the coach for his faith in me," he added.

"We’re waiting to see now if it’s Spain or Italy and I think both teams will be very hard to beat."

Near-perfect night

On a near-perfect night for Germany, who have still not conceded a goal in France, Löw was able to pull off Boateng and Khedira for Benedikt Höwedes and Bastian Schweinsteiger respectively.

Schweinsteiger made his 36th appearance at a World Cup or European Championship, leaving him one short of record holder and fellow countryman Miroslav Klose.

Kozacik pulled off another fine save to deny Toni Kroos in added time of a match which will lift Germany’s confidence ahead of a sterner test to come in their next outing.

Germany were Euro winners in 1972, 1980 and 1996, as well as runners-up three times, while Slovakia had never before competed at a finals as an independent nation.

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