Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Germans start Euro 2008 with victory

DIVIDED LOYALTIESDespite scoring twice and his side’s victory, Germany’s Lukas Podolski had mixed feelings on Sunday after his goals sank the country of his birth, Poland

AFP , KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA

Germany’s Torsten Frings, right, and Poland’s Dariusz Dudka go for a header during their Euro 2008 Group B match in Klagenfurt, Austria, on Sunday. Germany defeated Poland 2-0.

PHOTO: AP

Lukas Podolski ended Germany’s 12-year wait for a European Championship win on Sunday with two goals as his side’s Euro 2008 campaign began with a 2-0 win over Poland.

Podolski combined with Miroslav Klose for his first goal on 20 minutes and followed up with an unstoppable volley on 72 minutes.

The result put the Germans top of their group and coach Joachim Loew praised his team.

“The whole team, not just Lukas Podolski, played well, we know Lukas is a very dangerous attacker for any goalkeeper, but Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose helped him immensely,” Loew said.

“I think from a tactical point of view our defense worked very well, we didn’t make many defensive mistakes,” he said. “We desperately wanted to start with a victory and we can be happy with the result.”

The last time Germany won a European Championship game was back in June 30 1996 when they beat the Czech Republic to win Euro 1996 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Ballack said the Germans had been their traditional efficient selves in sealing the points.

“I think we played well. It’s always difficult — you never know where you are before the first game of a tournament. I think we deserved victory. From the start we were aggressive,” the Chelsea star said.

The Poles were making their European Championship debut, but are still yet to beat Germany in 16 meetings between the sides since 1933 with the Germans now claiming 12 wins with four draws between the neighbors.

“You can imagine how disappointed we are, but our opponents played at the highest level,” Beenhakker said.

“The first goal was well taken, I was not impressed with the second goal, we tried to put some more pressure on and played a bit more open, which led to the consequence of the second goal,” he said. “After the second goal it was all over. We matched them for 70 minutes, but the last 20 was best forgotten.”

GROUP B

P
GD
PTS
1.Germany
1
2
3
2. Croatia
1
1
3
3. Austria
1
-1
0
4 .Poland
1
-2
0


Beenhakker had opted for five in midfield with Euzebiusz Smolarek as the lone striker up front for Poland.

Loew had gone for a traditional 4-4-2 formation, keeping midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger — a star of the 2006 World Cup — on the bench until half-time playing Podolski behind the two German strikers.

The move paid off as Podolski gave Germany an extra attacking option supporting front men Miroslav Klose, the top scorer at the last World Cup, who was partnering VfB Stuttgart hot-shot Gomez up front.

After both sides squandered early chances, the trio combined to give Germany the breakthrough on 20 minutes.

Gomez flicked the ball over the defense for Klose to draw the goalkeeper before giving his Bayern Munich team-mate Podolski a simple tap in on 20 minutes past Poland’s Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

Poland’s best chance of the first half — and ultimately the game — came when midfielder Wojciech Lobodzinski put in a superb pass, but Maciej Zurawski pulled his shot wide.

Polish striker Smolarek picked up the first booking on 40 minutes when he tripped Per Mertsacker.

During the half-time break, Beenhakker swapped his captain Maciej Zurawski for Brazilian-born Roger Guerreiro, but he made little impact and Lobodzinski earned Poland’s second yellow card on 64 minutes for tripping Podolski.

Germany were dominating by this stage and when the ball fell to Podolski on 72 minutes he drove his shot into the top corner of the net to give his side some breathing space.

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