Group B - Germany 1 - 0 PortugalSat, Jun 09 2012
Germany got their Euro 2012 tournament off to a perfect start by beating Portugal 1-0 courtesy of a second half header from Mario Gomez, but they made hard work of it in a game turned out to be a scrappy affair for large periods.
The first chance of the game fell to Mario Gomez when he was picked out by Bayern Munich teammate Jerome Boateng with a sublime cross, but Rui Patricio got down well to save his tame headed effort.
The game never really showed any signs of bursting into life in the early proceedings, with both sides looking to be feeling each other out, but Cristiano Ronaldo gave the German defence something to worry about when he whipped a low, dangerous cross into the box but Philipp Lahm was on hand to turn it behind..
Lukas Podolski had a chance at the other end but he drilled his free kick straight into the wall as he tried to find a gap between two players.
The most anticipated game of the tournament’s opening round was turning out to be a disappointing affair, but Portugal almost opened the scoring in the dying seconds of the half.
Real Madrid defender Pepe managed to get on the end of a corner, taking the ball down in the box. But he saw his shot come off the underside of the crossbar, land on the goal line and bounce out again.
The second half proved more lively , with an improvement in the passing and attacks, but both sides struggled to find the target as Mario Gomez and Cristiano Ronaldo both wasted chances inside the first ten minutes of the half.
It was not until the 72nd minute that the deadlock was broken. Sami Khedira picked up the ball on the left side and lifted a perfectly weighted cross into the box for the towering Mario Gomez.
Gomez leapt and craned his neck to send a powerful header beyond the reach of Rui Patricio.
Miroslav Klose was ready to be brought on, but was told to sit back down as soon as the ball found the back of the net.
Gomez almost extended his side's lead five minutes later when a teasing ball came in from the right courtesy of Thomas Muller but, at full stretch, the ball was just beyond the striker's reach.
Ronaldo finally forced a save out of Neuer in the 82nd minute when he drilled a testing ball towards goal from 25 yards, but the Bayern 'keeper was equal to it and knocked it away for a corner.
Portugal finally looked to have woken up but substitute Silvestre Varela couldn't find an equaliser for his side from eight yards – Portugal’s best chance of the game.
His shot was met by Neuer who rushed out in the nick of time to knock it away.
Portugal had one final chance in stoppage time when Ronaldo found his former Man United teammate Nani in space, but the winger's shot was deflected wide of the goal.
Germany get their campaign off to a good start, but the secondy favourites to win the tournament will consider themselves lucky to leave Arena Lviv with the victory.
Germany: Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holgar Badstuber, Philip Lahm; Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schwiensteiger,Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil; Mario Gomez (Miroslav Klose '80)
Subs not used: Tim Wiese, Ron-Robert Zieler, Marcel Schmelzer, Benedikt Howedes, Per Mertesacker, Ilkay Gundogan, Lars Bender, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Marcus Reus, Andre Schurrle
Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Periera, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Raul Meireles (Silvestre Varela '81), Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho; Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga (Nelson Olivieira '70), Nani
Subs not used: Eduardo, Beto, Ricardo Costa, Rolado, Miguel Lopes, Custodio. Quaresma, Ruben Micael, Hugo Viana, Hugo Almeida
Referee: Stephané Lannoy (France)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Mesut Ozil (Germany)
Alan Finn is a Sligo based reporter and currently studying journalism. He created Thebitoredblog and joined ExtraTime in February of 2012. Follow him on twitter @AlanF1994