Podolski goals gives Germany first Euro win since 1996 (Lead)June 9th, 2008 - 5:40 am ICT by IANS
Klagenfurt (Austria), June 9 (DPA) Striker Lukas Podolski scored twice to give Germany their first Euro victory since 1996 with a 2-0 win against Poland in a Group B game played in Klagenfurt Sunday. The first chance of the game fell to Poland after a misunderstanding between German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and his defender Per Mertesacker, luckily though for them, Jacek Krzynowek failed to connect.
Germany could then have scored their first in the fourth minute when Mario Gomez came close, but pushed the ball just wide.
Polish-born Podolski opened the scoring in the 20th minute after being set up by another German player with Polish roots, Miroslav Klose.
He added another in the 72nd minute after a Polish defender failed to clear the ball. The victory marks the first win for Germany at the Euro finals since beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in the 1996 final in London.
Podolski, who hardly cheered after his two goals, said that he had two hearts beating in his body. “Of course I remain close to Poland. I was born there, have a large family, many of whom live there and I am sad if they lose.”
The Bayern striker, who was named the man of the match, said that winning the award meant very little to him. “The important thing is that we won the game. But it is simply a first step, we now need to go further.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew said that Podolski had played very well. “But the whole team did well. I am pleased that we won.”
Captain Michael Ballack praised his team-mates. “We went into the game fully concentrated. We made few mistakes and the first goal was very important. Even though Poland then had a few chances, we managed to get the second.
“I think we deserved the victory in the end. Winning the first game is always very important, it gives us confidence and we can build on such a result.”
Polish coach Leo Beenhakker said he believed his side still stood a chance to advance. “I will start working on the team on Monday. I think we have a mentally strong side and they will be able to come back from this.
“Germany played well and in such a form can beat Croatia, so that leaves us with all the chances.”
Ahead of the game police arrested some 150 German hooligans, who were screaming rightwing slogans at Polish fans. Police said they had been watching the hooligans for some time and had decided to intervene before the situation escalated.
The win sees Germany top the group from Croatia, who beat the co-hosts Austria 1-0 in Vienna in the earlier game Sunday.
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Tags: captain michael, euro finals, first chance, first game, german player, goalkeeper, jens lehmann, joachim loew, klagenfurt austria, klose, leo beenhakker, mario gomez, mertesacker, michael ballack, misunderstanding, poland, polish roots, team mates, two hearts, victory