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Havertz, Gosens and own goals help Germany past Portugal

June 19, 2021

Germany recovered from their defeat to France with a thrilling 4–2 comeback win against Portugal. The victory was a testament to the group but also one inspired by left wingback Robin Gosens.

Robin Gosens
Robin Gosens shone for Germany but has never played in the BundesligaImage: Matthias Hangst/AFP/Getty Images

Portugal 2 4 Germany, Allianz Arena
Ronaldo 15', Jota 67' – Dias og 35', Guerreiro og 38', Havertz 51', Gosens 60')

Joachim Löw asked for more bravery and intent, and he got it.

Kai Havertz showed he can score the goals, Thomas Müller was so energetic he was tackling in the opposition box, and down the left Robin Gosens became Germany’s new star. Germany has arrived at the tournament.

"Even if you pinched me I wouldn't believe it," Gosens told German public broadcaster ARD afterwards. "I'm ultra happy."

When Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal ended Germany’s spell of early dominance it felt like a familiar performance was incoming. Instead, Löw’s side shrugged off the goal, made more of possession in dangerous spaces, and let the wingbacks take over. And once they found that space, they couldn’t stop scoring.

It is telling that their first two goals came within four minutes of each other, but even more so that they were both own goals by Portugal. Maybe aware that their attack was still in need of sharpening, Löw’s side willed the ball into the net however they could.

Gosens gets Germany into gear

This was the performance of a team that had indeed entered a competitive mode, as Löw had asked them to do the day before. Germany finally combined their unity as a group with a performance befitting of their individual quality, and all of it was inspired by the play of their wingbacks. Both Joshua Kimmich and Gosens not only exploited the space given to them but were integral to the way in which Germany attacked.

"Both wingbacks played higher than against France, which is why we got in behind them with good passes," Löw said afterwards. "Both Kimmich and Gosens were superb today and it was an important part of creating pressure."

Naturally, no Germany performance under Löw passes without a wobble. After Löw rang the changes, Portugal scored a second and then hit the post with just over 12 minutes left. But only for a brief moment did the thought of a draw hang in the air. Once Germany had equalized, this never felt like a game they were going to lose.

Germany took their performance against France and turned it up a notch. For Löw this victory must have been particularly sweet. There has been much derision about his persistence with the back three, but this was a performance to vindicate him and the players in those positions.

Start of something? 

Joshua Kimmich’s position has dominated headlines over recent weeks, but it was the man on the other flank who stole the show.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the first time against Germany but it was in vainImage: ULMER Pressebildagentur/imago images

After a slow start, Gosens gave a performance that cemented the position for himself and won over the hearts of Germany fans all over the world. It would have been fitting had his goal inside the opening five minutes not been offside, but that didn’t stop him scoring later on with his head. When he was substituted off, the stadium sang his name.

For a player whose giddy excitement at just being a part of this team adds a much-needed freshness, this was a fairytale evening for the 26-year-old. "It's an incredible night and one I won't forget for the rest of my life," he said in the post match press conference.

Perhaps the question of whether this is also the start of a fairytale summer for Germany can be saved for another day. Tonight is about Germany beating the defending European champions, and Robin Gosens.

Full time!

The whistle blows and Germany get the best of a thriller to pick up their first points of the tournament.

87' Last ditch defending

Rüdiger comes up with a big header to deny Pepe. Portugal have thrown everyone forward now, desperate times.

80' Woodwork!

What a strike! Sanches, who struggled on this ground as a Bayern player rattles the post with a sensational effort from a long way ouz. That would have made things (more) interesting. 

73' Löw looks to tighten up

It is not as comfortable as it should be for Germany so the coach throws on a defender, Süle for Gündogan, who has had a fairly quiet game. This one is not over yet. Goretzka is also on while Ginter goes in the book for a late tackle.

67' Goal! Portugal 2 – 4 (Jota)

A real lapse in concentration from Germany and the holders have hope. Ronaldo is allowed to ghost in at the back post from a deep free kick on the left. He hooks a bouncing ball across the goal to Jota, who is unmarked six yards out and tucks home.

60' Goal! Portugal 1 – 4 (Gosens)

It is unbelievable that Portugal have failed to address the issues out wide but Germany are making the most of it. Just as in the early disallowed goal, it was one wingback to another, Kimmich whipping in one of his trademark crosses and Gosens rising to head in at the back post. Game over surely. Löw must think so, he take Gosens off.

51' Goal! Portugal 1 – 3 (Havertz)

And again! Almost the same goal, but this time finished by a German. The home side work the ball from right to left and Gosens once again finds acres of space down the left hand side of the box. He measures another low cross and Havertz sweeps it home from close range. Easy.

46' Back underway

Here we go again. Portugal make a change, with Renato Sanches, the reigning young player of the tournament, back at his old stomping ground after a disappointing spell at Bayern on the back of Euro 2016. He replaces Bernardo Silva.

Half time

Gnabry twists this way and that before stinging the palms of Patricio. And that is it for a breathless half, one of the best of the tournament. Germany have had all of the ball and their wingbacks are causing havoc but Portugal's opener, scored direct from a Germany corner, was evidence of their threat on the break. And they have nearly repeated the dose. More of the same in 15 minutes please.

38' Goal Portugal 1 – 2 (Guerreiro og)

Another wingback assist, another own goal and another VAR check but Germany lead. This time, after Havertz goes close, Kimmich ghosts in to the box on the right and drives a ball low across the face of the goa. Portugal are clearly in generous mood and Guerreiro takes his turn at shinning it in. Scenes! Own goal out on its own as the tournament top scorer.

35' Goal! Portugal 1 – 1 Germany (Dias og)

I was just writing how all the space Germany are getting is for the wingbacks (honest) and Gosens forces the equalizer. The Atalanta wingback, who has never played in the Bundesliga, battered a crossfield ball on the volley across the six yard box. It's not entirely clear if it was a shot or a cross but, with Havertz breathing down his neck, Dias can only shin it in to his own net. Shades of Hummels against France there.

25' Red faced Rüdiger

After breaking his duck, Ronaldo has his tail up. Even more than usual. He lifts the ball over Rüdiger's head, gestures comically while it's in flight then lays off a no look pass which befuddles Kroos. Oof. Meanwhile Dias and Hummels both flash headers wide of goal in somewhat less showy fashion.

15' Goal! Portugal 1 – 0 Germany (Ronaldo)

This might be the first time Portugal have got out of their own half but they made it count, breaking from a corner. Somehow Havertz found himself at center back and failed to track the run of Ronaldo. A delightful dinked ball over the top from Bernardo turns Germany round and Jota squares across the six yard box to an unmarked Ronaldo for his third of the tournament and first ever against Germany. There was no way he would go a game without breaking some sort of record. 

10' Deutschland dominant

All Germany here, as Havertz forces Rui Patricio in to a smart stop before Kroos has a shot blocked after an incisive move. Can they capitalize though? 

5' VAR disallows Germany goal

Lovely goal this, or it would have been. Kimmich skips away down right after some persistence from Müller and whips in the kind of cross that justifies playing him on the right. Gnabry darts at it, misses and Gosens flies in to finish acrobatically at the back post. But the VAR rules that Gnabry was offside. It was tight, but looked the right call.

1' Kick Off!

Here we go! Plenty riding on this, particularly after Hungary won a point against France earlier on. Gnabry gets things started in front of a smattering of German flag wavers.

Löw not ready to stop just yet

Joachim Löw hangs up his black polo neck after this tournament, with his former assistant Hansi Flick ready to take over. But when asked if he had considered that this may be his penultimate match, he was having none of it. There will "definitely be several more" he said. Bold.

No lineup changes for Germany vs. Portugal

Germany will trot out the same starting XI this evening as they did against France in their Euro 2020 opener earlier this week.

On playing Joshua Kimmich at right-back one once more, Joachim Löw mentioned the loss of Lukas Klostermann to injury as a key reason to keep the Bayern Munich midfielder on the right side of defense.

Portugal's Fernando Santos has also elected to stick with the lineup that earned him a 3-0 win against Hungary.

Antoine Griezmann equalizes for France

Antoine Griezmann celebrates his equalizer for France
Antoine Griezmann (second from right) celebrates his equalizer for FranceImage: Bernadett Szabo/AFP/Getty Images

This rebound Griezmann puts in! After missing in the first half from just outside the six-yard box, Antoine Griezmann was in the right place at the right time to smash Willi Orban's poor clearance home.

It's first goal in Euro 2020 for France, whose only other tally was an own goal from Mats Hummels.

Griezmann, who received his 50th consecutive cap for France, is the reigning golden boot winner after scoring six goals during Euro 2020 in his home country.

Who is Hungary's Attila Fiola?

In perhaps the biggest moment of his career, Attila Fiola gave Hungary a 1-0 lead over France in first half stoppage time. It was just the 31-year-old's second career goal for Hungary in his career.

Fiola has spent his entire playing career in Hungary, where he currently plays for Ferhervar. He received his first international cap in 2014 and made one appearance at Euro 2016 at right back. 

Hungary take surprise lead against France!

Attila Fiola celebrates scoring Hungary's opening goal
Attila Fiola celebrates scoring Hungary's opening goalImage: Laszlo Balogh/REUTERS

Puskas Arena in Budapest is rocking! Hungary head into halftime with a 1-0 lead over world champions France. Who would have though?

Attila Fiola received a pass on the left on a counterattack and beat Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane before finding the back of the net. It's the first goal France has conceded in six matches.

Portugal's Joao Felix ruled out

The Atletico Madrid forward will not suit up for Portugal due to muscle problems, the country's FA said in a statement. Felix came on as a substitute in the country's first game against Hungary.

His absence takes away one weapon at Fernando Santos' disposal going forward, but with Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva and Andre Silva, Portugal's attack remains very potent.

Hungary-France underway in Puskas Arena

Hungary fans hold up scarves and flags during the national anthem
Hungary fans hold up scarves and flags during the national anthemImage: Tibor Illyes/REUTERS

World champions France could punch their ticket to the knockout stages with a win in Budapest. 

Didier Dechamps made just one change to his starting lineup from the side that beat Germany 1-0 on Tuesday, dropping Lucas Hernandez in favor of Lucas Digne at left-back. Marco Rossi likewise made just one change to his Hungary side, going for Loic Nagy at right-wing-back over Grego Lovrencsics.

The game is expected to have water breaks with the temperature 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

How did Germany's opening game go?

Not well. Joshua Kimmich wasn't alone in insisting that Germany "deserved a point" against France but, in the cold light of day, even Kimmich would have to admit that Germany were clearly second best as they slipped to a 0-1 defeat.

Germany dominated possession but, in the absence of an out-an-out striker, the front line of Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz and Thomas Müller failed to create any real chances of note.

Joshua Kimmich during Germany's opening game at Euro 2020
Joshua Kimmich thought Germany 'deserved a point' against FranceImage: Matthias Schrader/AFP/Getty Images

In the end, it may only have been a single goal - an own goal scored by Mats Hummels - but world champions France looked comfortable throughout and would have won by more, had Kylian Mbappé just managed to stay onside.

Against Portugal, a more potent threat in front of goal is required. Meanwhile, the defense may have seen the back of Mbappé, but now they have to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo ...

How did Portugal's opening game go?

It took 84 hard-fought minutes in Budapest but Hungary's resistance finally cracked as Portugal opened the defense of their Euro 2016 title with a 3-0 win. Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock before Ronaldo added two more, including a penalty.

However, despite the talented names on the teamsheet, Ronaldo, Bernando Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and co struggled to create clear chances against the well-organized Hungarians.

Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal's opening game of Euro 2020
Portugal's main man: Cristiano RonaldoImage: Bernadett Szabo/REUTERS

Germany won't be anywhere near as defensive as Hungary, though, which could provide the recipe for an exciting, open game. And Portugal will be hoping that that will suit them.

And if they do find themselves needing a goal late on, Portugal can always look to the bench to change things up: in Andre Silva, who scored 28 Bundesliga goals for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, they have a proper striking option - the sort Germany could also do with.

Will Joachim Löw make any changes?

Much of the pre-tournament discussion was about Germany's use of a back three, with Kimmich and Robin Gosens used as attacking wingbacks. But the plan to attack France down the flanks didn't bear fruit, and the deployment of two defensive midfielders in Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan left Germany's forwards isolated.

Against Portugal, Löw could be tempted to switch to a back four, with Matthias Ginter at right-back, allowing Kimmich to move into midfield, from where he can influence the game more.

Midfielder Leon Goretzka training at Germany's camp
Ready to return? Midfielder Leon GoretzkaImage: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Germany will also be hoping that Leon Goretzka will be able to play a role, after missing the France game through injury. The Bayern Munich midfielder has scored 13 goals in 31 games for the Nationalmannschaft and could be the ideal link-up between defense and attack. "Leon could be a good option in the course of the game," said Löw, suggesting the 26-year-old may begin on the bench. But could he be fit enough to start?

Joachim Löw: 'More risk, more intensity, more dynamism, more speed'

Fußball Euro 2020 | DFB Training in Herzogenaurach | Joachim Löw und Mannschaft
Image: Federico Gambarini/dpa/picture alliance

Speaking to the media on Friday evening, Löw said he believed his team defended "generally well" against France but admitted:

"It's no secret that we didn't create enough chances, and we've been working on that this week. Tactically, we need to offer something different, more offensive power. We need to be more direct, more dynamic. We need more intensity upon front, we need to play through different channels, we need to play with more risk, more speed, more dynamism into the final third.

"But the team have shown a positive reaction after a day's rest."

Joachim Löw: 'Portugal are no longer a one-man show'

Asked for his evaluation of Germany's opponents, Löw was keen to emphasize that Portugal are more than just Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Portugal aren't just Ronaldo, they're not a one-man show like in 2016, where so many of their attacks went through him," he said. "They have four or five world class attackers – Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix.

"Whereas France played quite narrow and direct, Portugal attack more with combination play of the highest level. Very variable and technically gifted.

"Even so, Ronaldo does more than just move Coca-Cola cans around."

Do Germany need a striker?

It's a question that has been asked at almost every major tournament since the revamp of Germany's academy system in the early 2000s produced a generation of hugely talented, creative midfielders and wingers — but no target men.

Miroslav Klose did it in 2014, Mario Gomez to an extent in 2016. Timo Werner fell short in 2018, although he can perhaps be excused since he's not really a number nine.

Deutschland Bundesliga Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz 05
A proper striker? Kevin Volland in his Leverkusend daysImage: Getty Images/AFP/M. Meissner

At Euro 2020, Löw has included Monaco striker Kevin Volland in his squad. The 28-year-old is not a household name but he did score 44 goals across four Bundesliga seasons for Bayer Leverkusen, before moving to France. He came on for five minutes at the end of the France game, but could Löw give him a chance against Portugal?

What's the word from the Germany camp?

Matthias Ginter and Emre Can faced the inquisitive German media on Thursday to reflect on the defeat to France and look ahead to the game against Portugal.

"It hurt us all, because it was a bitter defeat and the disappointment was still there the day after," admitted Can. "But today, the atmosphere is much better. We have to look forward and be positive."

"We have a feeling of 'this is the time!'", said Ginter, revealing that the team had been working on set pieces - which had been particularly disappointing against France. "That was a topic in training," he said. "We know we need to improve there."

Budapest' Puskas Arena
Puskas Arena ahead of kickoff for Hungary's game against Portugal on June 15Image: Laszlo Balogh/Pool/Getty Images

What else is happening in Group F?

Before Germany kick off, France are in action again against Hungary.

Like Portugal, the French will face a combative Hungary team in front of a hostile, full-capacity crowd in Budapest.

But victory for Didier Deschamps' team would see them safely into the next round ahead of a showdown against Portugal in their final match.