Two goals from Lukas Podolski ensured Germany made a winning start to their Euro 2008 campaign against Poland in Klagenfurt.
Podolski put Germany on the path to a deserved victory when he converted Miroslav Klose’s pass from close range after 20 minutes. The Polish-born striker secured a comfortable win for the pre-tournament favourites when he volleyed home from the edge of the area with 20 minutes remaining.
The game’s first chance fell to Poland when Jens Lehmann punched weakly and the ball fell to Maciej Zurawski who with the goal at his mercy, blasted over from the edge of the penalty area.
At the other end, it took just five minutes for Germany to carve open the Polish defence. A simple pass from Michael Ballack allowed Miroslav Klose to elude the offside trap, but with only Artur Borus to beat, the Bayern Munich striker elected to pass to his strike partner Mario Gomez, who was unable to steer the ball into the gaping net.
The Polish defence had been warned but they failed to take heed and on 20 minutes the same combination produced the opening goal. Ballack again released Klose and this time forward possessed the composure to pick out Podolski to slot home from close range.
Defensive jitters aside, the Poles gradually began to assert themselves and they created a wonderful chance on 36 minutes when the impressive Wojciech Lobodzinski set up Zurawski, only for the striker to screw his shot wide of the target.
Germany raced up the other end and Gomez steered his shot past the far post after excellent approach work by Clemens Fritz.
Poland began the second half on the front foot, and the introduction of Roger Guerreiro brought some finesse to their otherwise prosaic play. The Brazilian-born playmaker was at the heart of their better moments, but despite some neat approach work, Lehmann was rarely tested.
Germany still posed a threat and on 70 minutes Boruc was forced to make a fingertip to save from Ballack following a sweeping move involving Torsten Frings and Phillip Lahm.
Two minutes later and Germany sealed the points in emphatic style. After a neat exchange involving Ballack and the tireless Frings the ball reached Bastian Schweinsteiger in the box. He laid it off to Miroslav Klose, whose mis-kick set up Podolski to volley home his and Germany’s second.
Poland were willing contenders until the end and late on Guerreiro crossed for Marek Saganowski – whose close-range header at the near post was palmed away by Lehmann.
Ultimately, though, Joachim Low’s side ran out comfortable winners and look well placed to advance from Group B.
For Poland, all is not lost. On the evidence of this afternoon’s encounter between between the other teams in the group, they look equipped to run Croatia close for the second qualifying spot.
Germany 2 Poland 0
Scorer: Lukas Podolski 20, 72
Germany: 1-Jens Lehmann; 16-Philipp Lahm, 17-Per Mertesacker, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 2-Marcell Jansen; 4-Clemens Fritz (7-Bastian Schweinsteiger 56), 8-Torsten Frings, 13-Michael Ballack, 20-Lukas Podolski; 11-Miroslav Klose (22-Kevin Kuranyi 90+1), 9-Mario Gomez (15-Thomas Hitzlsperger 75)
Poland: 1-Artur Boruc; 4-Pawel Golanski (11-Marek Saganowski 75), 6-Jacek Bak, 14-Michal Zewlakow, 13-Marcin Wasilewski; 18-Mariusz Lewandowski, 5-Dariusz Dudka, 17-Wojciech Lobodzinski (16-Lukasz Piszczek 65), 8-Jacek Krzynowek, 9-Maciej Zurawski (20-Roger Guerreiro 46); 7-Ebi Smolarek
Referee: Tom Henning Ovrebo (Norway)