Three wins out of three and in ominous form, it is going to take a special team to deny Germany a fourth European title.
The Bayern Munich man should really have scored moments later, Podolski’s cross travelling across goal to him, but from three yards he failed to catch his shot properly, which allowed Stephan Andersen to make a good save.
A shot on the turn from Mario Gomez was just too high, but the goal was coming and fittingly on his 100th appearance for his country, it fell to Podolski.
There was a small piece of good fortune about it, but such was their dominance, it was hard to begrudge them the goal. Müller’s cross was aiming for Gomez, but his Bayern team-mate missed his kick at the near post.
A slight deflection, though, carried it through to Podolski who had plenty of time to look up before slamming a shot in from eight yards.
Knowing a draw would be good enough to take them through to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals as runners-up, Denmark had been content to sit back and hold on, but suddenly with Holland beating Portugal, they could see the possibility of going out.
It cranked up the intensity of their game and they equalised just five minutes later. Germany had been given a warning of a new set-piece in the Danish armoury, Nicklas Bendtner pulling wide and deep to meet a corner which he headed back into the danger area.
The idea was clearly for another player to run in and get on the end of it, but on the first occasion it bounced harmlessly through to Neuer. When Bendtner took up a similar position a second time, Germany’s defenders still failed to recognise the ploy and this time the Sunderland striker not only won his header,
Michael Krohn-Delhi was ideally placed to nod it past the goalkeeper.
Germany moved up a gear in response, Gomez spurning another good chance when he failed to volley in Podolski’s pinpoint cross. Sami Khedira was just as wasteful, shooting wide.
Denmark would progress with a point if Portugal lost, but they will have known at half-time the score in that match matched their own, so the onus was on them to win.
Germany also knew a draw would be fine, but if they conceded there was a risk they would be eliminated should Holland win 2-1. To stick or twist?
That nagging fear for the Germans almost became a reality when Simon Poulsen and Bendtner combined to tee up Jakob Poulsen. His shot from appeared destined for the bottom corner before clipping the otuside of a post.
Joachim Löw appeared to have told his Germany side not to take any unnecessary risks. Denmark tried to attack them. Germany, though, did not look likely to concede a goal and, rarely, possession.
Andre Schurrle came on to replace Podolski and almost scored soon after, but his low shot was saved by Andersen.
Bendtner almost got on the end of a long ball from Christian Eriksen, but he could not beat Neuer as he stretched, not helped by sneaky tug on his shirt by Holger Badstuber. Yet it was a clever ploy from the centre-back.
A few moments later, the Germans scored the goal that guaranteed their progress.
They broke quickly quickly, Mesut Ozil playing the ball to Miroslav Klose, but when he missed his kick, right-back Lars Bender had galloped up to support and finished with coolness of a centre-forward.