International

Euro 2020: Havertz scores in thrilling Germany victory

Kai Havertz scored and was involved in three more as Germany defeated Portugal in a six-goal thriller.

Munich played host to arguably the most entertaining match of Euro 2020 so far, with Havertz and Antonio Rudiger playing important roles for Germany as they gave their chances of progressing to the knockout stages a massive boost with victory against Portugal.

Having lost their opening game to France, the pressure was on Germany, especially after going behind to the Portuguese, but they showed their strength to triumph 4-2 in the end, with Havertz involved in the build-up of all four goals, in addition to getting the third himself.

Germany coach Joachim Low kept faith with the side which lost to France, meaning Rudiger retained his place on the left of a back three and Havertz again formed one third of a fluid front three alongside Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller. Timo Werner was among the substitutes.

The home side briefly thought they had taken an early lead when Robin Gosens acrobatically turned in Joshua Kimmich’s ball at the back post, but the goal was ruled out by VAR as the offside Gnabry was deemed to have interfered in play with his own attempt to meet the cross.

Havertz also had Portugal worried early on with a powerful low drive from just outside the box, but Rui Patricio just managed to get down and palm the ball away from the bottom corner.

However, it was Portugal who took the lead with virtually their first attack of the game. It came on a quick counter which started at a Germany corner, Diogo Jota getting in behind Havertz on the break and squaring the ball for Cristiano Ronaldo to tap in the opener against the run of play.

Germany continued to dominate possession after going behind, though, and were level with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Havertz playing a big part. When Matthias Ginter’s clipped cross was put back across goal by Gosens, Havertz and Ruben Dias were competing to reach the ball on the edge of the six-yard box and it went in off the defender.

Amazingly, Germany were ahead just a few minutes later through another own goal, with both Chelsea players on the pitch involved this time, as Portugal continued to struggle with Havertz’s movement in attack.

The move start with an excellently weighted pass from Rudiger to release Gosens down the left and when the ball was chipped into the box at an awkward height, Havertz got just about enough on his flick to keep it in play for Kimmich. He drove a pass across goal, with Havertz and Gnabry both poised to score before Raphael Guerreiro did the job for them when attempting to intercept.

It could even have been more, with Rudiger not far away from finding the net with a header from a corner, before Gnabry forced a save from Patricio, but they had to settle for a one-goal lead at the end of a highly entertaining first half.

It only took five minutes of the second period for Germany to extend their lead, though, and this time Havertz did get his name on the scoresheet. Having also been involved in the build up out on the right, he surged into the box to meet Gosens low cross and turn into the net from close range.

The home side weren’t finished, either, as Havertz’s through-ball gave Kimmich the space to chip a cross to the back post, where Gosens was waiting to head in and make it four.

Portugal pulled one back when Rudiger couldn’t prevent Jota tapping in at the back post from a set-piece and started to apply some pressure of their own, the Chelsea defender making a vital clearance in the six-yard box before Renato Sanches struck the post with powerful effort from range.

After picking up a booking for an untidy tackle, Havertz was substituted with a little less than 20 minutes remaining as Germany looked to sure things up at the back and see out the game with their two-goal lead.

Rudiger and Co stayed strong at the back to reach the end with that lead intact, meaning they go second in Group G, ahead of Portugal on head-to-head record, one point behind leaders France going into their last group game against Hungary.

In the day's evening kick-off, Cesar Azpilicueta was an unused substitute for Spain as they drew 1-1 with Poland, when former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata opened the scoring in Seville before the home side were pegged back by Robert Lewandowski's header. That result leaves Spain in third place in Group E on two points, one point behind their next opponents Slovakia.

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