Germany's 2:0 win over Poland ended a 12-year drought, giving the country its first Euro match victory since 1996.
The last German to shoot a a winning Euro game goal was Oliver Bierhoff, in 1996
The last time Germany won a European Championship game was way back in June 30 1996, when Oliver Bierhoff placed the “golden goal” to beat the Czech Republic at London's Wembley Stadium.
By ending its Euro slump, the German national team earned itself a heap of praise from various quarters.
"Joachim Loew clearly has managed to get the team perfectly fit in the last three weeks,” wrote German soccer lion Franz Beckenbauer in his column in the Bild Zeitung on Monday, June 9.
“In this combination, we don’t have to fear any opponent,” he continued.
"Perfect start" to the tournament
Beckenbauer wrote that the Germany-Poland game was the best of the tournament so far, and the “perfect start” to the event.
Poldi greeted his Polish fans even after the 2:0 win
Klaus Allofs, the general manager of the Werder Bremen club, praised the team, saying its impressive win was “doubly good -- not only did they win, they played well.”
Both men said Germany had showed they had what it takes to win the tournament.
Horst Heldt, the sport director of VfB Stuttgart, said he was impressed by the aggressive play of the Germans. “They left no question as to who the man of the house was,” he commented.
A member of the last winning Euro team from 1996 was also full of praise. "It was an amazing performance, and incredibly important for the tournament,“ said Christian Ziege, who is currently the sport director of Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Poland has yet to win against Germany
Germany's win over Poland should not have come as a surprise to anyone, however. In the 75 years the two teams have been facing off, Germany has won 12 times and conceded four draws. Poland has yet to score a single victory.
Ironically, the winning goals in Sunday's match were scored by Polish-born German player Lukas Podolski. He was clearly pleased by his success, but avoided strutting over his well-placed goals in deference to his heritage, and the large family he still has in Poland.
“I have a big family (in Poland), you have to show respect,” the 23-year-old Podolski told the press after the match, as he went into the stands and greeted famil and friends who ahad travelled to Austria, where the match was playsed, from his hometown of Gleiwitz, Poland.
Beenhakker regretted the bad taste of the press
"Poldi" was the only German player to take a victory lap in a red Poland shirt, that of opponent Mariusz Lewandowski.
The match was preceded by some media controversy. Last Wednesday, June 4, Polish tabloid Super Express printed a mocked up picture of Poland coach Leo Beenhakker holding the severed heads of German coach Joachim Loew and Germany captain Michael Ballack.
Both sides played down the episode, with Beenhakker apologizing “in the name of all Poles” for the tasteless boulevard press mock-up. Loew said no apology was necessary.
Poldi's rejoicing was low-key after goals on Poland
The first goal, scored just after 20 minutes, was also disputed.
Beenhakker complained the goal was a “killer” to his team's morale because it was unclear as to whether or not the ball was offside. Instant replay showed the ball appeared, indeed, to be marginally offside. But the call went to Germany nonetheless.
Hope for Germany fans
"We are very disappointed. We started the match well...the goal they got was a killer especially because when it is a clear goal then generally you can accept it and go on."
"If you have doubts about the goal then you feel it as a team and you take a bit of time to get over this moment and start again," he added.
Germany had reason to rejoice
In all, the win gave hope to Germany fans, who saw proof that their team was strong, and who want to see the country go all the way to the 2008 final, after only making it to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Many now say the team is at their peak for Euro 2008. Germany next face Croatia before taking on co-hosts Austria.
"We were highly concentrated and didn't make many mistakes," team captain Ballack said after the Poland match.