Gomez grabs victory for Germany
Mario Gomez scored a magnificent header as Germany battled to a 1-0 victory over Portugal to make a winning start to their Euro 2012 campaign.
Portugal's defensive obduracy had frustrated Germany for 72 minutes and Gomez was about to be substituted when he planted Sami Khedira's cross past goalkeeper Rui Patricio. Suddenly faced with chasing the game, instead of settling for the bore draw, Portugal brought Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani into the game and laid siege on the German goal.
In a barnstorming finish, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer brilliantly denied Silvestre Varela to seal the victory as Joachim Low's men made a successful start to their quest for a first European crown since 1996.
Mesut Ozil was the Germany's main attacking threat and the three-times European champions came close to an early goal with a header from striker Gomez.
Helder Postiga won a corner after a run from Fabio Coentrao but Portugal were sitting so deep they lacked any real fluidity in attack. Ronaldo was a spectator for most of the first half. Thomas Mueller picked out Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski, who tried a low first time shot with the outside of his right foot that was easily saved.
When Ronaldo finally got a chance to run at Germany his trickery got the better of Jerome Boateng and his dangerous cross was stabbed behind for a corner. When the cross came back in, Bruno Alves was unmarked in the box but he could not make contact with the ball and Germany escaped.
After 44 minutes it was Portugal who created the best chance. Defender Pepe made space in the box with a delightful first touch and then curled a delightful shot over Holger Badstuber and on to the underside of the bar. The ball crashed down onto the line and away.
Meireles made two important blocks after the restart but Portugal did offer more in attack in the second half, with Nani beating Philipp Lahm before whipping in a cross. The ball fell to Ronaldo in the box after a driving run from Coentrao but he was denied by Boateng's perfectly-timed block.
With Germany unable to break the deadlock, Low was just about to take off Gomez when the Bayern Munich striker scored with a brilliant header. Gomez rose to meet Khedira's cross from the right and directed his downward header back across goal and inside the far post.
Gomez almost had a second as he galloped unmarked into the box but Mueller's cross was just ahead of him. Nelson Oliveira pulled the ball back for Varela inside the Germany box but Neuer was off his line in a flash and blocked the shot. Ronaldo then picked out Nani but the Manchester United forward saw his shot deflect behind off Badstuber.