Gomez nods Germany past Portugal

6/9/2012 2:01:16 PM

With Denmark's shock defeat of the Netherlands earlier on Saturday turning the "Group of Death" on its head, Germany and Portugal took the pitch knowing that three points would see their respective teams join the Danes in pole position of Group B with two games to go.

But in an even match that saw both sides create numerous scoring chances, the only breakthrough came as a result of a Mario Gomez header in the 72nd minute.

The first half was relatively tame until the final minute when a Portugal corner kick fell to Pepe in the center of the penalty area. The unmarked Real Madrid star collected possession and fired a shot against the underside of the crossbar, but it failed to cross the line on its way down as the Germans quickly cleared their lines.

The two powerhouses traded blows after the restart but the Germans bagged the goal that ultimately held up as the winner.

Gomez carried his terrific club form with Bayern Munich into the Euros with the national team by getting on the end of cross from Sami Khedira and nodding the delivery back across goal past Rui Patricio.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet game by his high standards but came close to equalizing in the 82nd minute. His blistering attempt was turned aside by Manuel Neuer, who did well to cope with the shot's dip and swerve.

Nani got even closer to drawing Portugal level when an over-hit cross nearly caught Neuer out of position. The German 'keeper scrambled to get back on his line as he helplessly watched the ball skim the crossbar on its way to safety.

Portugal's substitutes nearly leveled the score three minutes from time when Nelson Oliveira played a low ball across the face of goal. It trickled through traffic and fell at the feet of an unmarked Silvestre Varela, but Neuer stood tall to produce a crucial stop.

It turned out to be Portugal's final scoring chance as Germany held on to go level with Denmark atop the group on three points apiece.

The result sets up a pair of vital fixtures on Wednesday as Germany and Denmark will face Dutch and Portuguese sides, respectively, that are desperate for points.