Mario Gomez’s header in the 72nd minute gave Germany a less than convincing 1–0 win over Portugal in Group B’s second match at Euro 2012 on Saturday in Ukraine.
After Denmark stunned Netherlands 1–0 earlier in the day, Germany tried to take the game to Portugal, but failed to establish much dominance. The Portuguese approach was defensive-minded, until they fell behind.
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo failed to deliver much of a threat and the German defense put in a solid performance in stopping him as well as former Manchester United teammate Nani.
The three-time European champions Germany won all 10 of their qualifying matches, but seemed devoid of attacking ideas at times and were fortunate to not get stuck with a draw.
Pepe’s shot late in the first half hit the underside of the bar and then bounced right on the goal line in Portugal’s best scoring opportunity.
Late in the game, Varela was 1-on-1 with German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, but the Portuguese striker was not able to get the ball by the last line of defense.
The first half proved to be a dull affair with Germany having more possession but seemingly lacking creativity. Playmaker Mesut Ozil had plenty of possession, but strong defensive work from Pepe and company prevented any clear-cut scoring chances.
The second half saw Portugal gain in confidence and the play was more balanced.
Jerome Boateng denied Ronaldo a shot on goal with a heroic tackle just after the hour mark. Then, as Gomez was about to be substituted for veteran striker Miroslav Klose, he scored.
Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger sent in a decent cross from the right flank that Gomez headed across the goal and past the reach of Portuguese keeper Rui Patricio.
Portugal then pressed for the equalizer. Ronaldo sent in a low shot that Neuer parried in the 82nd minute. Shortly thereafter, Nani floated in a cross that bounced off the top of the crossbar.
In the final minute of play, Nani had another chance in the German area, but his hard shot was blocked by Holger Badstuber. Along with Mats Hummels, the center of the German defense had a very strong game.
With the win, Germany and Denmark sit atop Group B with three points each, while Netherlands and Portugal have zero points. Portugal faces Denmark and Germany faces Netherlands on Wednesday.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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