Euro '08: Day 2 ReviewPosted on: 09 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Germany and Croatia open their account with victory over Poland and Austria respectively.
Tournament favourites Germany had a winning start to their challenge for the 2008 title.
The Germans saw off the challenge from old rivals Poland 2-0 whilst Croatia also kicked off their competition with a win – 1-0 against co-hosts Austria in Group B.
A double strike from Polish born predator Lukas Podolski put Germany in the driving seat for a top place finish in Group B.
The Bayern Munich forward was ruthless in front of goal as Joachim Low’s team threatened to run riot on the pitch in Klagenfurt.
Despite their impressive qualification campaign Poland were poor defensively allowing the trio of Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomes and Podolski the freedom to exploit space in behind.
Austria 0-1 Croatia
Germany 2-0 Poland
Poland glovesman Artur Boruc saved brilliantly from Michael Ballack in between Podolski’s two goals as Germany grabbed their first win in the European Championships since they beat the Czech Republic to win Euro 96 at Wembley.
Their performance, in the first 45 minutes in particular, suggested that Low’s side are in the mood to make amends for previous European disappointments.
Poland’s lack of organisation at the back proved decisive but the Poles can take heart from seeing Croatia struggle past a poor Austrian side in Vienna.
The co-hosts, dubbed by many as the worst team ever to enter a European Championship, only lost out to a fourth-minute Luka Modric penalty.
The creative midfielder is heading the way of Tottenham Hotspur this summer after sealing a £16m move from Dinamo Zagreb and he drilled home his penalty after Rene Aufhauser pulled down Ivica Olic in the area.
Joachim Standfest headed Austria’s best chance wide as they finished the first half in better shape than their fancied opposition.
After the break Umit Korkmaz and Roman Kienast both had chances to equalise for Austria.
Croatia Vs Germany (5pm ITV)
Austria Vs Poland (7.45pm BBC)
A draw would not have flattered the plucky Austrians who showed character and a steely determination to recover from a terrible opening spell.
The team ranked 92nd in the world drew praise for the nature of their performance but at the same time pundits and fans alike were left withdrawn by the Croatian team.
Croatia, so impressive in qualifying, failed to build on their lead as complacency crept into their game.
Missing Eduardo in attack, Croatia were almost made to pay for their lack of quality in the final third and will need to improve drastically for their encounter with the Germans this week.
With Poland facing Austria, it could be down to the final game when Croatia meet Poland to decide who will join Germany in the quarter-finals.
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