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