Group F was billed as the “group of death” and it was living up to its billing with the interesting games it was serving up. In the first game of the group. Hungary held on against Portugal before Cristiano Ronaldo and co did damage in the dying moments to take a flattering victory. Then France took a 1-0 victory over Germany. In the earlier game of the day, Hungary drew France 1-1 in a game that shocked the world. The group was still wide open.
Joachim Low and Fernando Santos did not make changes to their xi from the first game. Die Mannschaft came out of the blocks with speed and power. In the 5th minute of the game, they had the ball in the back of Portugal’s net. Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller combined for Matthias Ginter to cross before Robin Gosens powered it in at the back post. There was a handball from Muller in the buildup and a hint of offside from Gnabry. Moments later Muller turned in front of the Portuguese defense and set it up for a Havertz shot. The young forward shot well but Rui Patricio saved it. Nelson Semedo finds Bruno Fernandes behind the very high and aggressive German backline. It was offside.
Germany continued to press aggressively and won a corner in the 14th minute. The header was cleared by Cristiano Ronaldo and a counter ensued. Bernardo Silva to Diogo Jota and Jota set it up for Ronaldo who covered the length of the pitch to score. Goal number 105 for the 36-year-old and very against the run of play. Portugal 1-0 Germany. Ronaldo’s first international goal against Neuer.
On 21, Portugal got a corner and Silva worked it for Raphaël Guerreiro. His cross should have been turned in by Ruben Dias who opted to head or back across the goal. On 26, Havertz lost the ball in the attack and tracked William Carvalho back into his half, he fouled the Real Betis midfielder and gave away a free-kick. Guerreiro’s set-piece was headed over by Jota. In the 35th minute, Muller led a charge and was pointing to his teammates to move with him. He shifted the ball to Joshua Kimmich who speared a ball over to Gosens. The Atalanta wing-back fizzed his cross in and Kai Havertz put enough pressure on Ruben Dias to turn it in for an own goal. Portugal 1-1 Germany.
4 minutes later and Germany took the lead. Antonio Rudiger worked the ball for Gosens and Gosens for Muller. Muller then lofted a cross and Havertz’s touch took it away from Patricio. Kimmich gathered in and crossed. Guerreiro turned it into his own goal. Portugal 1-2 Germany. Germany had a counter and Gnabry tore Pepe a new one before testing Patricio. Half-time Portugal 1-2.
You know that thing that happens when everyone watching a game can see the problem and the only person who cannot see it is the person paid to see it (coach), that was the case here. There was no need for a double pivot of Danilo Pereira and Carvalho. Both lacked the sharp progressive passing needed to push Portugal forward but Fernando Santos did not see it that way. He subbed Silva who was having a good game on the right wing and brought in Renato Sanches, a central midfielder, to replace him. On 51, Havertz, Gundogan, Muller, Kimmich, Gnabry, Muller again, and then it is worked out wide for Gosens who fizzes a dangerous cross in for Havertz to tap in. 1-3. What a goal! 8 minutes later, Gosens was on the scoresheet. Kimmich picked him out perfectly and he planted his header into the net.
He was subbed for Marcel Halstenburg and Mats Hummels came off for Emre Can.
On 66, Joao Moutinho, on for a forgettable Bruno Fernandes whipped in a corner, and Ronaldo at the back post put the ball back in for Jota to fire home. 2-4. The inverse of the combination that got Portugal’s first. Game on?
More substitutions as Kai Havertz makes way for Leon Goretzka and Ilkay Gundogan for Niklas Sule. On 77, Renato Sanches nearly took off the frame of the goal with a piledriver. So close! Later Leroy Sane replaced the effervescent Gnabry. Germany closed out the game. Portugal faces France in another heavyweight tie while Germany takes on Hungary.