Germany used all their big game experience to get past Portugal in a thrilling contest that means all four teams can still qualify for the Euro 2020 knockout stages in Group F. Two own goals, along with strikes from Kai Havertz and Robin Gosens, saw the 2014 world champions turn around a 1-0 deficit after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored the opener and they withstood a late barrage to secure a vital three points.
In tournaments such as this, experience cannot be underestimated. Germany’s side, featuring the likes of World Cup winners Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Mats Hummels dominated Portugal for the first hour and thoroughly deserved the three points. The last half an hour was less free-flowing, but seeing out a game with so much on the line is something Joachim Low will be delighted with.
Manager for 15 years, he has seen it all in charge of the national team, from the World Cup win to the group stage exit in 2018. In his last tournament in charge he seems determined to finish with a flourish, and on a day that could have seen them theoretically eliminated from the competition, they are now in a great position to qualify, and potentially win the group.
This result, combined with Hungary’s 1-1 draw with France earlier in the day means that it is all to play for heading into the final round of fixtures. Low’s side will fancy their chances of beating Hungary while reigning champions Portugal could be in trouble with France to come on Wednesday.
Make no mistake - this was the game of the tournament so far.
Germany, under pressure having lost their opening game, started with great intent. Gosens had a goal disallowed by VAR after Serge Gnabry was adjudged offside while the Bayern Munich man was creating issues for Portugal’s back line. Thomas Muller saw his shot saved as Ronaldo was left stranded - but then Portugal showed just how devastating they are on the break.
A brilliant ball from Bernardo Silva freed Diogo Jota who took a perfect touch before laying the ball to Ronaldo, who tapped home his third goal of the tournament to take him top in the race for the Golden Boot. In fact, since the semi-finals of Euro 2004, Cristiano Ronaldo has more goals in the European Championships than England (11-10).
He is, without a shadow of doubt, the best European player we have ever seen.
But Portugal’s chances didn’t come as thick and fast as Germany’s. If they couldn’t get the ball in the net themselves, Joachim Low’s side would force Portugal to put it in for them. First Ruben Dias stuck the ball in his own net after Gosens, Germany’s best player put in another brilliant volleyed ball, before Raphael Guerrio did the same as Germany attacked with their wing-backs.
His mistimed clearance came after Joshua Kimmich played the ball across the six yard box and in the space of five minutes, the hosts had turned things around. Gnabry could have extended the lead at the end of a pulsating first half having given Pepe the run around but his shot was saved by Rui Patricio, who was a busy man throughout the first 45.
If the first half was a thriller then the second more than lived up to it, as Germany pressed home their advantage. Gosens got in again to set up Kai Havertz who tapped home before Gosens, who had that goal ruled out by VAR, got on the scoresheet with a header to put the hosts 4-1 ahead.
Portugal had wilted in the afternoon heat in Munich before the hour mark as Germany asserted their dominance and proved they had the quality to compete after a disappointing opening day loss against France. Diogo Jota gave Fernando Santos’ side hope as he smashed in from one yard out before substitute Renato Sanches saw his long range strike cannon back off the post.
They kept on pressing but Germany’s back line held on to secure a crucial win which puts them above Portugal in a group of death that could just be the best we have ever seen. Maybe Gary Lineker put it best: “Football is a simple game. 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”