2012 European Championships : Germany 1 – Portugal 0


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Germany defensive midfielder SAMI KHEDIRA (6) of current Spanish La Liga champion Real Madrid runs away from the tackle attempted by Portugal midfielder RAUL MEIRELES (16) of successful English Premier League side FC Chelsea – the F.A. Cup titlist and UEFA Champions League winner this term – during the closely-contested 2012 UEFA European Championships Group B match at the Arena Lviv in the Ukraine.
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A textbook header with a little less than twenty minutes remaining and stellar netminding from there on out allowed always-formidable GERMANY to edge particularly-cautious PORTUGAL 1-0 and claim an important three points at the 2012 UEFA European Championships on the first day of play in Group B.

The Germans thoroughly enjoyed the flow of the one-way traffic that prevailed all throughout the opening forty-five minutes. From the outset, the Portuguese were clearly content to concede both possession and territory rather easily, as if to intentionally spite the attacking prowess of wingers CRISTIANO RONALDO of reigning Spanish La Liga champion Real Madrid as well as NANI of traditional English Premier League juggernaut Manchester United. Nevertheless, Germany still struggled to negotiate the packed defense and create genuine opportunities en masse.

In all, Germany would generate a dozen attempts at goal but, in the end, only four of those ever found their target.

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Ironically enough, the closest either side went came against the run of play when Real Madrid defender PEPE found himself in a great position after a corner kick from Ronaldo had not been cleared properly. With clinical precision, the Spanish legionnaire side-footed a curling ball which deftly rose above Germany left back PHILIPP LAHM positioned at the right post. The underside of the crossbar, however, sent the ball slamming straight down on top of — but not entirely over — the goal line and, thus, Germany survived.

Much had been made in the domestic press prior to the match about just exactly who would start at right back for Germany in the opener at Euro ’12 opposite Portugal and the prolific Ronaldo. There had been concerns expressed with respect to the pace of Bayern Munich defender JEROME BOATENG, who is typically deployed in the center by his club at the professional level. But the former Manchester City rearguard directly addressed those potential fears with a well-timed, last-ditch tackle to thwart the one-time Manchester United superstar poacher just after the hour.

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The Portuguese, actually, had been coming out of their defensive shell in earnest more frequently after the restart when Germany trainer JOACHIM LOEW had highly-experienced veteran MIROSLAV KLOSE of Italian Serie A side SS Lazio Rome ready and all set to run on as a substitute. But then Real Madrid midfielder SAMI KHEDIRA swung over a fateful, if slightly-deflected cross for the Germans in the 72nd minute. Arriving on the end of the ball sent into the box was none other than the man who had been singled out for replacement, himself.

24-year-old Portugal goalkeeper RUI PATRICIO of Sporting Lisbon never had any real chance to stop the well-placed header from striker MARIO GOMEZ of Bayern Muinich. But a 23rd career international goal from Super Mario did enable the Germans to be rewarded for all their effort on the whole of the match and deservedly go in front late. A rapid response, though, was not long in coming as the Portuguese now threw all previous caution to the wind.

With just under ten minutes remaining in the contest, Ronaldo produced a low, stinging drive that Germany goalkeeper MANUEL NEUER had to punch away. Next, a constituent of the Planet’s Most Expensive Player at Real Madrid, left back FABIO COENTRAO, soon launched a long-range missle that the Bayern Munich shot-stopper had to turn over the crossbar. Naturally, the stylish Neuer stuck to the proverbial script and reserved his best for last, much to the chagrin of the Portuguese.

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Second half substitute striker NELSON OLIVEIRA of Benfica Lisbon pulled an inviting ball back across the penalty box for yet another striker of the bench, SILVESTRE VARELA, with everything to shoot at for surging Portugal. But the 27-year-old FC Porto forward could not beat the advancing Neuer, who kept his nerve and effectively constructed his wall. A signature block on the night, then, for the German goalkeeper, who was credited with seven saves in all for the match with the Portuguese by the official website of the 2012 UEFA European Championships.

There was still time for Nani to scare German supporters both inside the stadium and elsewhere, but Bayern Munich defender HOLGER BADSTUBER was on hand to provide relief via another well-received deflection. Never-say-die defender BRUNO ALVES of Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg had one last chance for Portugal in time added on but narrowly headed the corner kick of Nani high and wide. And so a determined and efficient Germany got the result it wanted.

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Germany defender MATS HUMMELS (5) of two-time defending Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund, the 23-year-old who clearly distinguished himself on his debut at a major international tournament, shields the ball from experienced Portugal striker HELDER POSTIDA (23) of Spanish La Liga club Real Zaragoza during the 2012 UEFA European Championships Group B match at the Arena Lviv.
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GERMANY
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goal — Manuel NEUER (Bayern Munich / 27 caps)

defense — Jerome BOATENG (Bayern Munich / 22 caps, 0 go), Mats HUMMELS (Borussia Dortmund / 15 caps, 1 go), Holger BADSTUBER (Bayern Munich / 21 caps, 1 go), Philipp LAHM (Bayern Munich / 87 caps, 4 go)

def midfield — Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER (Bayern Munich / 91 caps, 23 go), Sami KHEDIRA (Real Madrid – Spa / 28 caps, 1 go)

att midfield — Thomas MUELLER (Bayern Munich / 28 caps, 10 go), Mesut OEZIL (Real Madrid – Spa / 34 caps, 8 go), Lukas PODOLSKI (1.FC Koeln / 98 caps, 43 go)

striker — Mario GOMEZ (Bayern Munich / 53 caps, 23 go)

substitutes
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FW – Miroslav KLOSE (SS Lazio Rome – Ita / 117 caps, 63 go)
for Gomez – 80th min
MF – Toni KROOS (Bayern Munich / 27 caps, 2 go)
for Oezil – 87th min
MF – Lars BENDER (Bayer Leverkusen / 7 caps, 0 go)
for Mueller – 90+4th min

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Portugal captain and winger CRISTIANO RONALDO (7) of 2012 Spanish La Liga champion Real Madrid, the 27-year-old mega star who was sold by Manchester United for world-record 80.0 million English pounds (roughly 94.0 million Euros) in the summer of 2009, is contained well by versatile Germany right back JEROME BOATENG (20) of Bayern Munich during the UEFA European Championships Group B match witnessed by 32,990 spectators at the Arena Lviv in the Ukraine.
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PORTUGAL
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goal — RUI PATRICIO (Sporting Lisbon / 12 caps)

defense — Joao PEREIRA (Sporting Lisbon / 15 caps, 0 go), PEPE (Real Madrid – Spa / 40 caps, 2 go), Bruno ALVES (Zenit St. Petersburg – Rus / 51 caps, 5 go), Fabio COENTRAO (Real Madrid – Spa / 23 caps, 1 go)

def midfield – Miguel VELOSO (FC Genoa – Ita / 25 caps, 2 go)

midfield – Joao MOUTINHO (FC Porto / 44 caps, 2 go), Raul MEIRELES (FC Chelsea – Eng / 57 caps, 8 go)

attack – NANI (Manchester United – Eng / 55 caps, 13 go), Helder POSTIGA (Real Zaragoza – Spa / 50 caps, 19 go), Cristiano RONALDO (Real Madrid – Spa / 91 caps, 32 go)

substitutes
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FW – Nelson OLIVERIA (Benfica Lisbon / 4 caps, 0 go)
for Postiga – 70th min
FW – Silvestre VARELA (FC Porto / 7 caps, 1 go)
for Meireles – 81st min

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