World champions Germany have booked their spot in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 after a 3-0 win over Slovakia on Sunday night in Lille.
First-half goals from Jerome Boateng and Mario Gomez set Die Mannschaft on their way, before Julian Draxler scored a third just past the hour to set-up a last-eight tie with either holders Spain or Italy.
It was Germany that made the brighter start to proceedings and their first attempt on target arrived in the seventh minute when Sami Khedira’s close-range header brought a smart save from Matus Kozacik.
The Slovakian goalkeeper could do nothing from the resulting corner, however, as Boateng’s spectacular volley from outside the box landed in the bottom corner to hand the world champions an eighth-minute lead.
Five minutes later, the world champions had the chance to score a second from the penalty spot after Martin Skrtel pushed Gomez to the ground, but Mesut Ozil’s weak penalty was saved by Kozacik.
Toni Kroos and Gomez came close with efforts in the minutes that followed and Slovakia just could not keep hold of the possession as the last-16 tie reached the 20-minute mark in Lille.
Ozil had another glorious chance in the 24th minute after meeting a clever flick from Gomez, but the Arsenal midfielder’s effort just flew wide of the far post, with Kozacik rooted to the spot.
Thomas Muller was next to come close with a header in the 28th minute, but Slovakia escaped once again as the attacker’s effort from a Jonas Hector cross just missed the target.
Slovakia were facing attacks from every angle and Draxler just missed the post five minutes before the break after turning away from Peter Pekarik and releasing an effort towards the bottom corner.
Despite struggling for long spells of the first period, Slovakia almost levelled in the 41st minute. Their best chance of the half fell to Juraj Kucka inside the German box, but his powerful header was tipped over the crossbar by Manuel Neuer.
It was Germany that struck a killer blow in the 43rd minute, however, when Draxler broke into the penalty box before delivering a low cross into Gomez and the striker netted his second goal of the competition from close range.
Slovakia came close to halving the deficit in the 50th minute when Marek Hamsik played a clever pass into Kucka, but the number 19 once again found Neuer in smart form in the German net.
Four minutes later, Hamsik whipped a dangerous free kick towards the top corner, but his effort took a deflection off Mats Hummels and flew just wide of Neuer’s post during a strong period of Slovakia pressure.
Slovakia impressed in the early stages of the second half, but they conceded a third goal in the 63rd minute when Draxler volleyed home from close range after Hummels had angled a header towards the far post.
Jan Durica sent a powerful effort towards the bottom corner as Slovakia looked to respond five minutes later, but the ball just missed the post as Germany kept their clean sheet in tact approaching the final 20 minutes.
Joachim Low introduced both Benedikt Howedes and Lukas Podolski in the 72nd minute as the head coach already switched his attention to the quarter-finals, where Germany will meet either Italy or the holders Spain next weekend.
Bastian Schweinsteiger also made another appearance off the bench as the Manchester United midfielder continued to build his fitness, which could be vital for Low’s side in the latter stages of the tournament.
Opportunities were few and far between in the latter stages, however, as Jan Kozak’s side managed to prevent Germany from becoming the first team at this summer’s championships to score four times in one match. The last-16 stage is where it ends for Slovakia though as Germany march on to the quarter-finals.