Germany grateful for Gomez
Stubborn Portugal undone by striker's predatory instincts
Last Updated: 09/06/12 11:01pm
Goal machine Mario Gomez further underlined why he will be such a threat at Euro 2012 as his second-half header earned Germany a forgettable 1-0 win over Portugal in Lviv.
The Bayern Munich striker scored 38 times in all competitions for his club in 2011/12 and his country will be mightily glad he has brought his predatory instincts to Poland and Ukraine.
Gomez may have been missing his golden touch in the UEFA Champions League final defeat by Chelsea, but his excellent 72nd minute header showed he still has what it takes and it was enough to ensure Germany started with a win.
Joachim Low's finalists from four years ago are considered among the favourites to dethrone Spain this summer and although they were not at their best against a stubborn Portugal, an opening three points were essential.
Having watched Holland suffer a shock defeat by Denmark in Group B's first game, Germany now know after just one match they are already well placed to progress to the knockout stages.
Germany featured seven Bayern Munich players, all of whom will have felt a daunting sense of deja vu in the first half as Portugal set themselves to soak up the pressure.
Chelsea beat Bayern in the Champions League final a matter of weeks ago using exactly the same, backs-to-the-wall style that some would describe as anti-football.
Although Portugal started with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 112 goals in 101 appearances for Real Madrid, and Nani they set themselves up to nullify Germany and play for the draw.
Mesut Ozil was Germany's main attacking threat and the three-times European champions came close to an early goal with a header from striker Gomez.
Helder Postiga won a corner after a run from Fabio Coentrao but Portugal were sitting so deep they lacked any real fluidity in attack. Ronaldo was a spectator for most of the first half.
Thomas Muller picked out Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski, who tried a low first-time shot with the outside of his left foot that was easily saved.
Joao Pereira did well to close down Ozil, who had jinked his way into the Portugal box after being released by his Real Madrid team-mate Sami Khedira.
Postiga became the first player booked after he chased an underhit back-pass from Mats Hummels and caught Neuer as he slid for the ball.
Neuer made an unsavoury meal of a fairly innocuous incident, simply to ensure the former Tottenham striker was shown the yellow card.
When Ronaldo finally got a chance to run at Germany, his trickery got the better of Jerome Boateng and his dangerous cross was stabbed behind for a corner.
When the cross came back in, Bruno Alves was unmarked in the box but he could not make contact with the ball and Germany escaped.
Khedira linked with Ozil to pick open the Portuguese defence with a neat one-two before he was fouled by Raul Meireles but the free-kick was drilled straight into the wall.
After 44 minutes of German dominance, it was Portugal who created the best chance of the first half.
Defender Pepe made space in the box with a delightful first touch and then curled a delightful shot over Holger Badstuber and on to the underside of the bar.
The ball crashed down onto the line and away. It was a close escape for Germany.
Meireles made two important blocks after the restart but Portugal did offer more in attack in the second half, with Nani beating Philipp Lahm before whipping in a cross.
The ball fell to Ronaldo in the box after a driving run from Coentrao but he was denied by Boateng's perfectly-timed block.
With Germany unable to break the deadlock, Low was just about to take off Gomez when the Bayern Munich striker scored with a brilliant header.
Gomez rose to meet Khedira's cross from the right and directed his downward header back across goal and inside the far post.
Low reacted by instructing Miroslav Klose to sit back down and Gomez almost had a second as he galloped unmarked into the box but Muller's cross was just ahead of him.
Portugal had to up their attacking game and threatened more in the final 10 minutes than they had in the previous 80.
Coentrao had an effort that was deflected just over the bar before Nani's cross dipped on to the bar and away.
Nelson Oliveira pulled the ball back for Varela inside the Germany box but Neuer was off his line in a flash and blocked the shot.Ronaldo then picked out Nani but the Manchester United forward saw his shot deflect behind off Badstuber as Germany hung on.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|6||Shots off Target||4|
|65.1||1st Half Poss.||34.9|
|47.4||2nd Half Poss.||52.6|
European Championships Group A
European Championships Group B
European Championships Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||3||0|
European Championships Group D
Germany v Portugal
Germany began Euro 2012 with a gritty win over Portugal and Sky Sports looks at the talking points.
Germany coach Joachim Low was happy to see his side get off to a winning start at Euro 2012 after beating Portugal 1-0.
Paulo Bento felt luck deserted Portugal after his team were beaten 1-0 by Germany in their opening group game at Euro 2012.