Friday 19 January 2018

Euro 2012: Portugal pay price for cautious approach

Germany 1 Portugal 0

Mario Gomez scored a magnificent header as Germany battled their way past Portugal to make a winning start to their Euro 2012 campaign.

Portugal's defensive obduracy had frustrated Germany for 72 minutes and Gomez was about to be substituted when he planted Sami Khedira's cross past goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

Suddenly faced with chasing the game, instead of settling for the bore draw, Portugal brought Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani into the game and laid siege on the German goal.

In a barnstorming finish, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer brilliantly denied Silvestre Varela to seal the victory as Joachim Loew's men made a successful start to their quest for a first European crown since 1996.

Although Portugal started with Ronaldo 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.

Portugal were sitting so deep they lacked any real fluidity in attack but after 44 minutes of German dominance it was they 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. Portugal appealed for the goal but it was clear the shot hadn't crossed the line -- a close escape for Germany.

Raul 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 Fabio Coentrao but he was denied by Jerome Boateng's perfectly-timed block.

With Germany unable to break the deadlock, Loew 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.

Loew reacted by instructing Miroslav Klose to sit back down and Gomez almost had a second as he galloped unmarked into the box but Thomas Mueller'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 deflected behind off Badstuber as Germany hung on.

Germany: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller (Bender 90), Ozil (Kroos 87), Podolski, Gomez (Klose 80). Portugal: Rui;Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Meireles (Varela 80), Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Postiga (Nelson Oliveira 70), Ronaldo.

Referee: S Lannoy (France).

Sunday Indo Sport

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