Euro 2012: Germany 1-0 Portugal match report

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Euro 2012, Germany
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Germany put an early nail into Portugal’s coffin with a 1-0 win in the opening round of fixtures in the ‘group of death’.

A Mario Gomez header was enough to hand the nationalmannschaft victory, as they cemented their billing as favourites to top the group.

It was Portugal who fired the first warning shot though, serving as a reminder that they were anything but underdogs. Fabio  Coentrao wove through the German defence, although – as has often been the problem for 2004s runners-up – he had no end product.

Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski both had half chances for the Germans, before the former actually put the ball in the net. However, play was brought back for a foul on Mesut Özil, and the resulting free kick could not replicate the goal they’d been denied.

Germany’s focus was on the counter-attacking and quick transitions that had served them so well at the World Cup two years ago, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira – now aided by Dortmund defender Mats Hummels – linking up defence and attack to good effect.

However, while they enjoyed plenty of possession, with Podolski and Özil looking in particular lively, the failed to carve out any real chances.

That was almost punished on the stroke of half time, when a corner fell to Pepe. He curled it towards the top corner in a strike you wouldn’t normally associate with the no-nonsense, oft-insane defender. His shot bounced off the underside of the bar and onto the line. Despite Portuguese protests, it was deemed not to have crossed the line – which TV replays proved to be the correct decision.

Germany came out quickest after the break (figuratively speaking, I actually have no idea which team was back on the pitch first), with Thomas Müller causing problems down the right.

For Portugal, while Pepe went close in the first half, it was the other two-thirds of their Real Madrid trio – Coentrao and, more pertinently, Ronaldo – who looked the most likely to make something happen.

It was Jerome Boeteng charged with stopping the world’s second best player, and he managed to do so twice in succession – albeit in very different ways. First, a brilliant challenge; second, he had to resort to harsher methods, picking up a yellow card in the process.

It was, though, the Germans who took the lead with a goal scored in Ukraine, but made in Munich. Schweinsteiger’s deflected cross was met by the head of Gomez and, as he did 41 times for Bayern last season, he found the net.

That was to be Gomez’s last contribution, as Joachim Löw sent on birthday boy Miroslav Klose.

It may have been Ronaldo who looked the most dangerous (no mean feat for a player who seemingly changed his hairstyle at half time), but it was 20-year-old Nelson Oliviera who had the best opportunity to equalise. He latched on to Ronaldo’s pull back across the box, only to be denied by the imposing figure of Manuel Neuer.

Germany held on to claim an all-important victory, in a group where one win could be enough to see a side through.

After a game with the 10th best side in the world (according to FIFA, anyway), you’d think things might get easier. Their next game: Holland, ranked 4th. Although in fairness, against Denmark they were just rank, and Germany will not be losing any sleep over the prospect of facing Oranje.

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