Cristiano Ronaldo was on the losing side in Munich


Other than when Sweden and, let’s face it, England have been playing this has been a thoroughly enjoyable European Championships.

Close games, memorable goals, funny little car – what’s not to like?

In a pleasingly crowded field, Saturday’s game between Germany and Portugal stood out as the most enjoyable so far. 

Perhaps it was not the highest quality match, any defenders watching may have had an uneasy night’s sleep, but for the neutral it was certainly the most fun. 

What made it such a treat?

Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a completely undeserved goal


Germany came out flying, pinning their opponents back, scoring a wonderful goal which was (rightly) Varred out of existence. Generally the boys with the fetching red collars were pummeled. 

One Portugal break from a cleared corner and they were in the lead. It seemed inevitable as soon as Ronaldo accessed warp speed, seeming to sprint 30 yards in about two seconds. His close-range finish completed a faultless counter-attack, giving his side a hilariously unearned upper hand.

Ronaldo showing off

1-0 up and enjoying himself, Ronaldo tickled the ball over Anthony Rudiger, had time to perform an expansive hand gesture, then played a flashy no-look flick pass to a team-mate. 

A delight, but perhaps best wait until towards the end of the game and with a healthy lead before you start with the party tricks? Purely coincidentally he was sought out for some specialist treatment from the Germany team later:


The Cokes are in the post.

Germany’s relentless attacking

With wing-backs Joshua Kimmich and Robin Gosens particularly impressive it was wave upon wave of Germany attacks, despite Portugal being ahead. It was thrilling to watch. The game seemed to be taking place at this pace:


Pepe acting out


It’s just not modern top-level football without its best villain of the 21st century making faces, waving imaginary yellow cards and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Own goal bonanza

Eventually the Germany pressure told, Portugal seeming to crumble by putting the ball in their own net twice. First it was Ruben Dias:

Credit: AFP

Then Raphael Guerreiro:




At least one of these seemed unnecessary.

A flock of pigeons

Not an unloved 80s synthpop outfit, but the uncredited guest stars of the game, flitting past the camera at irregular intervals and at one point taking up a fairly useful defensive position:

Portugal’s best defender in this first half: the pigeon. #Euro2020

— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) June 19, 2021

A great noise

Credit: AFP


Only around 14,000 fans were allowed into Bayern Munich’s 75,000 capacity stadium: about the same number as a sell-out at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park. They made a noise like many thousand more, drums seeming amplified by the empty seats and singing rarely stopping from either side. 

Less keen on the Eurodance version of Seven Nation Army which was played at random points through PA while the ball was in play. This isn’t the National Basketball Association.

Goals, lots of goals

If you ask the true football intellectuals, high scoring games are a bit crass these days. But who are they kidding – who doesn’t want to see the highest-scoring match of the tournament so far? 

Portugal attempted to assert more control in the second half but Germany soon wrestled back momentum. Kai Havertz made it 3-1 after a precise and purposeful passing move:


Robin Gosens added a satisfying fourth for Germany, powering a header past Rui Patricio:


Portugal’s defence looked shambolic. Another famous 7-1 seemed on the cards for the hosts, instead seven minutes later Diogo Jota pulled one back for Portugal:


This set up a thrilling conclusion to the game

The closing 15 minutes

Credit: AFP

Jota’s goal seemed to upset Germany’s flow leading to a breathless final part of the game. Both sides could sense that another Portugal goal would inevitably lead to a 4-4 draw. Team Ronaldo were enlivened, team Neuer started finding themselves in the sorts of positions photographed above.

A game which looked like a thrashing was still alive and tantalisingly on the verge of a twist. 

Portugal corners ramped up the excitement. Leon Goretzka tried to settle it with a long range thunderbolt. Renato Sanches tried the same for Portugal. If in doubt, leather it.

The goal did not come but it’s rare to see a game so unrelentingly engaging from first whistle to last.