Joachim Löw's faith in 'one chance, one goal' Germany striker Mario Gomez rewarded

Germany 1 Portugal 0

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The Independent Online

Germany coach Joachim Löw felt Mario Gomez's winning goal in Saturday night's victory over Portugal justified his decision to start with the Bayern Munich striker ahead of Miroslav Klose.

Gomez scored a fine header as Löw's side opened the Group B campaign with a 1-0 success here in Lviv, joining Denmark at the top of the "Group of Death" after the Danes' shock 1-0 triumph over the Netherlands.

Lazio frontman Klose – scorer of 14 World Cup goals – has been struggling with a thigh injury in the build-up to the tournament, meaning Gomez got the nod up front. 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.

Speaking at his post-match press conference, Löw said: "I spoke with Miro. He still needs maybe a few per cent at this moment. He hasn't played for quite while in the preparation. They both trained really well but Gomez has been playing for the whole season, scoring lots of goals. He's a different type of player than Miro and he showed tonight he has lots of different qualities – one chance, one goal."

Löw promised there was more to come from his much-fancied side, but felt the important thing tonight was to start with the win.

"This is the start of the European Championship," he said. "It's like a Formula One race but without a warm-up. You have to be ready straight away because every team is incredibly strong. There is no team like in the World Cup where you can acclimatise yourself [against them] – Portugal were right there straight away.

"It's very important not to chase your own shadow – you have to win the first game. You could feel both teams were quite tense, especially after the Holland-Denmark result. Both teams knew the team that lost would have a lot to do in the next game – kind of like a knockout situation.

"We were much more compact, disciplined in defence – as was the case in the last few weeks. We could have attacked a bit better, but we will do that. The main thing is that we won and we've got these three points."

The Netherlands' earlier defeat threw the pool wide open, and Löw acknowledged the Oranje would be tricky opposition for his side in their next game on Wednesday. "I would have preferred a draw because now it's a situation for a very strong Holland team... they had a huge amount of chances but, in the end that they didn't score goals surprises me. They have their backs against the wall – it's now all or nothing for them.

"If they don't win the second game it will be very difficult for them. Of course, that will make it all the more difficult for us, all the more exciting."

Portugal coach Paulo Bento felt his side did everything well – apart from putting the ball in the net. "Of course, I'm sad about the result," he said. "It was a very complicated game."

Match facts

Germany: NEUER 7/10, BOATENG 7, HUMMELS 7, BADSTUBER 7, LAHM 6, KHEDIRA 7, SCHWEINSTEIGER 7, MULLER 6, OZIL 8, PODOLSKI 6, GOMEZ 6

Portugal: RUI PATRICIO 6, COENTRAO 6, ALVES 7, PEPE 6, PEREIRA 7, MOUTINHO 6, VELOSO 6, MEIRELES 6, RONALDO 6, POSTIGA 5, NANI 5

Scorer: Germany Gomez 72.

Substitutes: Germany Klose (Gomez, 80), Kroos (Özil, 87), Bender (Muller, 90). Portugal Nelson Oliveira (Postiga, 70), Varela (Meireles, 80).

Booked: Germany Badstuber, Boateng. Portugal Postiga, Coentrao.

Man of the match Özil. Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Germany 50% Portugal 50%.

Attempts on target: Germany 12 Portugal 11.

Referee S Lannoy (France). Attendance 33,951.

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