Two goals from Mario Gomez gave Germany a 2-1 victory over Netherlands in their Euro 2012 Group B match on Wednesday, putting them on the brink of the quarter-finals while the Dutch face a potential early exit.
Gomez fired the Germans into a 24th minute lead after turning in the area and firing past keeper Maarten Stekelenburg following a superb Bastian Schweinsteiger pass.
The pair combined again 14 minutes later, with Gomez thundering in his third goal in two matches from the right before Dutch forward Robin van Persie cut the deficit in the 73rd with his first goal of the tournament.
The result lifted Germany to six points from two games, following their 1-0 opening win over Portugal, while the Netherlands teeter on the brink of elimination after two defeats in the group following their opening loss to Denmark.
Germany coach Joachim Loew praised Gomez's finishing which left them needing a point against Denmark on Sunday to guarantee their progress to the last eight while the Dutch must now beat Portugal to have any hope of qualifying.
"The goals were great by Gomez. He's got good self confidence from the whole season and it's good for him. Schweinsteiger is (also) getting better and better," said Loew.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said: "We lost against a very good team and if you want to beat Germany you have to be top as team and player, and we weren't today as several players aren't really in shape.
"The opening phase was ok but after that it all went wrong in our defense."
Dutch captain Mark van Bommel added: "We expected a different match than this and what we showed today was simply not enough."
On a hot and humid evening in eastern Ukraine, Germany, who had lost their second group games in the last two major tournaments, put in a performance worthy of their title favorites tag.
Yet it was the Dutch who had the first chance, midfielder Van Bommel sending English Premier League top scorer Van Persie clear but he was unable to beat keeper Manuel Neuer.
That chance triggered an instant reaction from Germany with Mesut Ozil's volley rattling the foot of the post and the ball rolling into Stekelenburg's hands.
Gomez, who scored the goal against Portugal, then took matters into his own hands again and, courtesy of another well-timed Schweinsteiger pass, spun in the area and coolly slotted the ball home to give Germany the lead.
The forward, who again started ahead of Miroslav Klose, added a second in the 38th with a fine drive from a tight angle.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk brought on Bundesliga top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and playmaker Rafael van der Vaart for the second half to add some urgency but it was the Germans who kept piercing the Dutch defense at will.
But Neuer was called to the rescue, palming a Van Persie shot wide, while Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder's curled effort on the hour sailed wide.
Van Persie was not yet done, though, firing into the net after 73 minutes to set up a nervous finale although the Germans held on for the victory.
Portugal have three points after beating Denmark, who also have three points, 3-2 in the earlier group game.
Germany will qualify as group winners if they draw or win their final match against Denmark in Lviv on Sunday. They could still qualify if they lose that match and definitely would if Portugal fail to beat Netherlands.
The only hope the Dutch have is if they beat Portugal in Kharkiv the same night and Germany win.
That would leave the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark all on three points and their positions, and which team goes through as runners-up, would be decided on the goal difference in matches between the three.
The same 'mini-league' goal difference scenario would apply if Portugal and Denmark win their final games to leave them level with Germany on six points.
If goal difference cannot divide them UEFA has in place a list of subsequent tie-breakers.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris)