Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez scored the lone goal of the game as Germany defeated Portugal 1-0 on Saturday in Group B action of Euro 2012 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer led a German defensive line that held off Cristiano Ronaldo and the aggressive Portuguese offence.
Germany solidified its status of favourite in Group B of the tournament.
The Germans made a statement against their dangerous rival from Portugal, showing superiority on the field and balance between offence and defence. Germany’s ball control and dominance in the midfield overwhelmed its opponent from the beginning of the game, and dictated the course of the first half.
After multiple attempts against the opposing team, Mario Gomez finally found the end of the net in the 72nd minute with a header that beat Portugal’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio, ultimately giving Germany the victory.
Midfielders Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Lukas Podolski found too much space inside Portugal’s zone, allowing the Germans dominance in possession time.
Portuguese star Ronaldo found alone in the attack and was isolated by German players. In fact, Portugal’s offence had very few opportunities against an organized, strong wall of defenders.
Gomez tested Patricio early into the game. The Bayern Munich star hit a header from the edge of the area that couldn’t get past Patricio.
Defenceman Pepe almost gave Portugal the lead in the 45th minute.
The Real Madrid player found the ball on the penalty spot after a corner and took a shot that beat German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, but was denied by the crossbar.
The ball bounced into the goal-line before Germany was able to clear the danger, creating some controversy around Portuguese players.
The Second half’s first couple of minutes were a carbon copy of the first, with a German team forcing Portugal to move back.
Germany remained in control of the ball despite Portugal’s aggressive efforts to dominate.
Ronaldo and Nani started finding their rhythm alongside the edges of the opposing midfield area halfway through the half, with both players relying on their speed and creativity to create a few plays past the defenders, but nothing threatening to Neuer.
A back-and-forth between Ronaldo and Gomez started developing with dangerous plays on both sides of the field.
Gomez header over the bar in the 57th minute gave Patricio another warning, while Ronaldo had the clearest opportunity for Portugal in the 64th.
Joao Moutinho found Ronaldo open with a clever pass that left the captain open against the opposing keeper before German defenceman Jerome Boateng stripped Portugal’s captain of the ball to save his team.
Nani almost tied the game in minute 84 after hitting a cross that went straight into the crossbar, denying Portugal again. Neuer was brilliant under the bar for Germany during the last minutes of the match.
The German goalie saved the game for his team with an impressive save against substitute forward Silvestre Varela, who couldn’t capitalize after a good pass by Nelson Oliveira.
Portugal made several more desperate attempts in injury time, but none could break what is clearly one of the strongest defensive lines of the tournament.
What this result means
- A solid win against a team like Portugal and a boost of confidence for a German squad already considered the favourite to win it all. This is only bad news for the other teams in the group.
The winning goal
- It was only a matter of time before Gomez cracked Portugal’s net. The tall forward was rewarded with the goal after representing a constant threat to Portugal’s defence throughout the whole game.
Man of the match
- Gomez, without a doubt. His dangerous presence around Portugal’s area allowed the Germans to open their game and find clear spots. Neuer deserves credit, too.
The German perspective
- "We played very well tactically. We stayed in the match and we won 1-0, that's the most important thing. You don't want to fall behind in the first game. The first game is very important, it tells you where the team is, in which direction you are going." — Germany coach Joachim Loew
The Portugal perspective
- "They scored when we were improving a lot, we fought back and created some good chances. Success in football requires you to take your chances and we didn't do that." — Portugal coach Paulo Bento