Germany beat Portugal in six-goal thriller

Sports Desk,
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Germany came from behind to beat Portugal 4-2 and kick-start their Euro 2020 campaign.

Joachim Low’s side dominated the early exchanges and Portugal, defending champions, looked like a boxer on the ropes. All that changed after a stunning break, begun and finished by Cristiano Ronaldo, gave the visitors an unlikely lead.

Two own goals in four minutes, courtesy of Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro, ensured the hosts had overturned the deficit by the break following a pulsating first half.

The Germans continued to dominate after the interval and extended their lead when Kai Havertz became Germany’s youngest ever goal-scorer in a European Championship game. The magnificent Robin Gosens headed home Joshua Kimmich’s cross on the hour mark and the match was effectively over as a contest.

Diego Jota pulled one back after some fine work from Ronaldo with 24 minutes remaining and it looked like there might be a grandstand finish in prospect but the Germans held firm.

Germany were rocked by Ronaldo’s opener, coming as it did completely against the run of play. After defeat in their opening game and a limp exit from the last World Cup, were Low’s team on the verge of another embarrassing early exit from a major tournament?

Two Portugal own goals in four minutes and things looked very different. The second, Guerreiro inadvertently turning home Kimmich’s cross, cemented the idea that this was unlikely to be one of those days for the Germans and so it proved.

Gosens had a goal disallowed and a goal that counted and was imperious in between.

The Atalanta wing-back’s final contribution before his substitution was to powerfully head home Kimmich’s curling cross and it was a fitting final act for the man who had caused the Portuguese no end of problems all afternoon.

 “We never doubted ourselves, we knew we could do better,” Low said. “The next game might be tougher because Hungary plays deeper and defends with eight or nine men.

“We have to go step by step. Teams that did everything perfectly in the first two games rarely won a tournament.”

Group F is wide open. France are top with four points, followed by Germany and Portugal with three points apiece, and then Hungary bringing up the rear with a solitary point.

The permutations are endless going into the final day and the group everyone had their eye on before the tournament has lived up to its billing.

There were just four touches and 15 seconds from Ronaldo clearing the corner at one end to finishing off a stunning counterattack at the other. It was a truly stunning break that ruthlessly exposed Germany’s defensive issues.

Portugal’s final group game will be against world champions France at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest on Wednesday while, simultaneously, Hungary face Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich.