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Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker
Germany 1-0 Portugal, Group B
Saturday, June 9
Lukas Podolski was in lively form as Germany got their Euro 2012 campaign off to a winning start against Portugal thanks to Mario Gomez's well-taken header.
The new Arsenal signing proved a thorn in the side of a defensive Portuguese outfit, but in a tense match it was Bayern Munich striker Gomez who supplied the decisive touch on 73 minutes.
Gunners centre back Per Mertesacker was on the German bench in Lviv as the pre-tournament favourites just about did enough to claim the three points.
Podolski made a good start to the game and with 10 minutes on the clock he ran on to a loose ball on the edge of the area but his low shot was held by Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
With the Portuguese sitting back and hoping to catch Germany on the break, it was a tight first half of few chances, although Podolski had another opportunity but hit the wall with a fiercely-struck free kick.
The 27-year-old, who will move to Emirates Stadium after the tournament, worked hard to try to break down a stubborn Portuguese defence.
On the half-hour mark he had a clear-cut chance to open the scoring when Mesut Ozil set him up on the edge of the box, but he crashed his first-time shot well over the bar.
But it was Portugal who came closest to finding the scoresheet during the opening period, with Pepe seeing his shot bounce down off the crossbar and on to the goal line before it was cleared in the 45th minute.
The second half was a more open affair, and with 56 minutes gone Podolski sent in an inviting cross for Thomas Muller but the Bayern Munich forward headed over the bar.
Portugal remained a threat and only a superb last-ditch tackle by Jerome Boateng denied Cristiano Ronaldo when through on goal.
But with 73 minutes on the clock, Gomez finally broke the deadlock when he rose highest to head home Sami Khedira's cross.
Portugal responded well though, and came close to restoring parity when Nani hit the crossbar with a cross-cum-shot in the closing stages, while Silvestre Varela saw a shot saved by Manuel Neuer.
That proved enough as Germany got off to a winning start in a tournament many have tipped them to win.9 Jun 2012