Germany produced one of the most complete performances of UEFA EURO 2016 so far to beat Slovakia 3-0 and reach the quarter-finals.
No other outcome was likely, Germany not looking back from the moment Jérôme Boateng gave them an early lead. Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler also found the net in a display which will have made the rest of the tournament sit up and take even starker notice of the world champions.
Indeed Sami Khedira had already threatened with a header when Boateng's eighth-minute volley deflected in off Milan Škriniar. The ricochet was key, but the technique was impressive from a central defender who had barely trained all week due to a calf injury.
Mesut Özil could have cemented victory after just 14 minutes but his penalty – Martin Škrtel had infringed against Gomez – was saved by Kozáčik. Though the Arsenal man and Draxler both went close amid relentless German pressure, Slovakia might have drawn level had Juraj Kucka directed his close-range header beyond Manuel Neuer's reach.
Two minutes later it was game over, Gomez turning in after a fine run and cutback from Draxler. The Wolfsburg forward, a surprise starter in place of Mario Götze, was excellent and got a deserved goal of his own when he hooked a smart volley into the roof of the net from a corner just after the hour.
There was further pressure, Toni Kroos denied at the death, but Germany's work was done – they eased off the gas to ready themselves for bigger tests to come.
Man of the match: Julian Draxler (Germany)
Intelligent, dynamic and stylish, Draxler more than justified his place in the starting XI. His movement alongside Thomas Müller and Özil was surely the key to this success, Germany finding space despite their opponents' willingness to put so many behind the ball. The Germans' midweek training sessions against six defenders clearly paid off.
Impossible to breach
Even setting aside their increasing fluency going forward, Germany are going to be an immensely difficult team to knock out of this tournament. They have now not conceded a goal in 488 minutes and rarely looked like doing so in this game. "If we continue playing so compactly it will be difficult for our opponents," said Löw.
Huge test for Germany
Whoever Löw's team face in the last eight are sure to challenge Germany's 11-match unbeaten run in major tournaments. That sequence dates back to a 2-1 reverse to Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finals and it will be either the Azzurri or holders Spain who await in the quarters. The latter, of course, would mean a repeat of the 2008 final.
EURO2016.com team reporters' views
Steffen Potter, Germany (@UEFAcomSteffenP)
This was an impressive German win, their best display of these finals so far. They have underlined their status as one of the favourites. They have not conceded in five games – four in France – which is not bad for a side whose biggest pre-tournament concern was defence. They also look slick in attack, even if Müller is yet to break his EURO duck. Germany appear ready for what promises to be a huge quarter-final.
Rastislav Hribik, Slovakia (@UEFAcomRastoH)
Despite this team's brilliant spirit, they were simply not good enough to spring another surprise. In truth, Germany dominated and could have won by more. Coach Ján Kozák had made four changes in a bid to freshen up his side but they had so little of the ball it had minimal impact. It matters not, for the last 16 is success enough for Slovakia.
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