Gomez strike denies Portugal

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 Low's men made a successful start to their quest for a first European crown since 1996.

Germany featured seven Bayern Munich players, all of whom will have felt a daunting sense of deja vu in the first half as Portugal set themselves to soak up the pressure.

Chelsea beat Bayern in the Champions League final a matter of weeks ago using exactly the same, backs-to-the-wall style that some would describe as anti-football.

Although Portugal started with Ronaldo, who has scored 112 goals in 101 appearances for Real Madrid, and Nani they set themselves up to nullify Germany and play for the draw.

Mesut Ozil was the Germany's main attacking threat and the three-times European champions came close to an early goal with a header from striker Mario Gomez.

Helder Postiga won a corner after a run from Fabio Coentrao but Portugal were sitting so deep they lacked any real fluidity in attack. Ronaldo was a spectator for most of the first half.

Thomas Mueller picked out Arsenal-bound Lucas Podolski, who tried a low first time shot with the outside of his right foot that was easily saved.

Pereira did well to close down Ozil, who had jinked his way into the Portugal box after being released by his Real Madrid team-mate.

Postiga became the first player booked after he chased an underhit back-pass from Mats Hummels and caught Neuer as he slid for the ball.

Neuer made an unsavoury meal of a fairly innocuous incident, simply to ensure the former Spurs striker was shown the yellow card.

When Ronaldo finally got a chance to run at Germany his trickery got the better of Jerome Boateng and his dangerous cross was stabbed behind for a corner.

When the cross came back in, Bruno Alves was unmarked in the box but he could not make contact with the ball and Germany escaped.

Khedira linked with Ozil to pick open the Portuguese defence with a neat one-two before he was fouled by Raul Meireles but the free-kick was drilled straight into the wall.

After 44 minutes of German dominance it was Portugal 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. It was a close escape for Germany.

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

With Germany unable to break the deadlock, Low 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.

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

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn