After being doubted over whether or not they could repeat their World Cup success of 2014 on the continental stage, Germany defied the viewpoints of their critics this evening, as they emerged victorious over Slovakia.
Goals from Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler ended the contest at 3-0 - to the relief of the Slovakians - as Jan Kozak's team were under threat for the full 90 minutes.
A dominant Deutschland performance
Germany took the lead after just eight minutes thanks to a sensational strike by Boateng. The Bayern Munich centre back fired a venomous half volley from the edge of the box, sending the ball firmly into the back of the net. It was Boateng's first ever goal at International level, what a goal to mark it with.
Germany were dominant in every department on the field, and Slovakia were left chasing the game throughout the first half in particular. Their hope of revival in the match was almost cancelled out minutes after Boateng's opener, as Germany were awarded a penalty after Gomez was dragged down by Martin Skrtel in the box.
Luckily for Slovakia, Matus Kozácik parried Mesut Özil's spot kick away, as the German midfielder opted for placement over power.
Just before half time, Slovakia worked their best chance of the game, as Peter Pekarik's cross was whipped into the box, finding the head of Michal Duris. The Slovakian's header was almost a certain goal, but the brilliance of Manuel Neuer prevailed; the German stopper produced an acrobatic fingertip save, hooking the header over the bar.
The heroics of the Bayern Munich goalkeeper were rewarded at the opposite end of the pitch, as Mario Gomez scored Germany's second of the game, finishing a silky counter attack after some wonderful work by Draxler in the build-up.
Draxler dazzles on a field full of experience
While Gomez' goal was tucked away in the definite fashion of a goal poacher, Draxler's assist was the talking point. The young midfielder was dispatched by Toni Kroos down the left flank, he fooled his marker with some elite trickery as he snuck in behind the Slovakian back line, placing the ball on a plate for Gomez to tuck away.
The Wolfsburg midfielder's game got even better in the second half, as he capped his individual masterclass with a goal to add to his tremendous assist. A Kroos free-kick was floated into the box, the ball wasn't claimed in the box as it snuck towards the boot of Draxler. He volleyed the ball over the head of Kozácik and into the roof of the net, showing great technique.
The Germans march on
Joachim Löw's World Cup winners show no doubt in their ability to progress in the competition, following a questionably unconvincing performance in the group stage. The Germans will face either Spain or Italy in the quarter-final, a tie guaranteed to be entertaining no matter the opponent.