Germany 4-2 Portugal
Germany brought Portugal crashing back down to earth with a typically organized and tidy victory over the Seleção in Munich tonight. Portugal had started exactly as they would have hoped, denying the Germans while scoring a superb counterattacking goal on the quarter hour mark.
But aside from a second half Jota goal from close range, it was all Germany and Portugal are left needing a huge resurgence in their final group stage match against France.
Though there were some feelings amongst supporters that Renato Sanches should enter the starting XI after his stirring second half cameo against Hungary, Fernando Santos thought otherwise and fielded the same XI as four days prior. Germany, too, fielded the exact squad which fell to an own goal against France in their opening match.
Germany started quite well and the worst was feared in only the 5th minute when a cross from the right found its way all the way through for Robin Gosens to finish with an acrobatic effort. Replays showed Serge Gnabry was marginally offside in the build-up, sparing Portugal the early deficit.
Gnabry was proving a handful early on however, bursting past several defenders on the right, but his cross was easily claimed by Rui Patrício. Kai Havertz was next to go close with Patrício called into action to parry away his effort from just outside the penalty area.
Portugal's forays into the German attacking third were rare and brief with the hosts fully in control. But the visitors braved the early storm, and were first to strike in the 15th minute through their all-time greatest player, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Following a corner, Portugal broke down the right, and a brilliant cross over the defense to Diogo Jota from Bernardo was wonderfully taken by the Liverpool man who found himself in acres of space. His drop off beyond Neuer's challenge was perfect for Ronaldo, who calmly tapped in as offside checks confirmed it was a devastating goal for Germany to concede after so much early pressure.
Germany went right back on the attack, but it was again Portugal who threatened following a free kick which was headed narrowly wide by Dias. Gnabry turned Guerreiro a bit too easily just moments later, but no runner took the risk to get on the end of his pass across the face of goal.
Guerreiro sent in a decent free kick delivery which was headed over by Jota on 28' after a clumsy foul by Havertz. But Portugal were obligated to go back on the defensive as Germany continued to control the passage of play and stymy Portugal's midfield.
It paid off in the 35th minute when Dias deflected a Gosens cross intended for Havertz into the back of his own net. It had been coming as relentless pressure from Germany had given Portugal very little time to grow into the match.
Minutes later, Germany went ahead through yet another own goal, this time Guerreiro unluckily deflecting a cross from Kimmich on the right past Patricio. There was nearly more after Havertz got on the end of a bad pass with Dias scrambling back to clear the ball for a corner.
Portugal tried to get back into the game, but Jota was marginally offside while trying to get on the end of Ronaldo's throughball. Pepe lead a counter down the right wing minutes later as the match opened up near the end of the first half.
That nearly proved fatal in stoppage time as Pepe was turned inside-out by Gnabry with Patrício called upon again to beat away his shot from the left side of the penalty area. The visitors went into the break very fortunate and in need of second half changes.
Portugal came out into the second half trying to possess more of the ball, but Germany added to their lead in the 51st minute when good passing combinations freed up Gosens down the left as Semedo had drifted too far inside. Havertz was left with the simplest of finishes for Germany's third.
Rafa was sent on before the hour mark for William as Portugal's possession had failed to yield more chances. It made no difference to Germany, and they had their fourth minutes later as Gosens rose highest to head home Kimmich's cross. Löw responded by sending in defensive reinforcements to hold the result in place.
Regardless the disaster unfolding, Jota did pull a goal back for the visitors in the 67th minute after a free kick was sent back across goal by Ronaldo who had escaped his marker at the back post.
Portugal's sense of urgency was heightened further by the goal, but their possession was stale against the ranks of German defenders. Then Renato Sanches struck the left upright with a ferocious effort with just over ten minutes to play. The Lille man had found himself on the edge of the area and surprised everyone in attendance by going for goal himself instead of delivering a cross in to Ronaldo and Jota.
Substitute Leon Goretzka had a chance on the counter, but he selfishly went for goal and blazed over. Fernando Santos responded by exchanging Jota for André Silva. Portugal labored onward, but could not break down the determined hosts despite a stoppage time chance for André Silva after a good run from Ronaldo.
Following the 3-0 win over Hungary, it was a naive and humiliating result for a Portugal team who were far too conservative in the first half. The Germans were clinical when their chances came and will feel much better about their own chances to progress from the group.
Santos will have to organize his players much better as it was clear they lacked cohesion any time they advanced the ball through midfield. The shape of the squad was simply not good enough against a German side which particularly enjoyed time and space down both wings with Kimmich and Robin Gosens both excellent. Ronaldo was decent with a goal and an assist despite limited touches, and Jota finally proved a worthy strike partner with his goal. Renato Sanches was again excellent as a second half substitute, but it must be said Portugal were largely out of answers aside from the brilliant counterattacking goal in the first half. Germany outclassed Portugal in both possession and shots on goal, and kept their mental errors to a minimum.
Portugal head back to Budapest on Wednesday needing a win or draw against France in order to progress from the group stage of Euro 2020.
by Nathan Motz
Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - Nelson Semedo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro - Danilo Pereira, William Carvalho (Rafa, 58') - Bernardo Silva (Renato Sanches, 46’), Bruno Fernandes (Moutinho, 64'), Diogo Jota (André Silva, 83') - Cristiano Ronaldo
Germany XI: Neuer - Rüdiger, Hummels, Ginter - Gosens, Kroos, Gündogan, Kimmich - Havertz, Mueller, Gnabry
[0-1] Cristiano Ronaldo, 15'
[1-1] Dias OG, 35'
[2-1] Guerreiro OG, 39'
[3-1] Havertz, 51'
[4-1] Gosens, 60'
[4-2] Diogo Jota, 67'