Germany revived their Euro 2020 hopes in spectacular fashion, coming back after conceding an early goal against Portugal to win the competition's most thrilling match so far by four goals to two.
Germany, needing at least a point to retain control of their own destiny in the tournament, started in impressive fashion and only a slight offside by Serge Gnabry denied Gosens his second international goal early on. He would not have to wait long.
Portugal were penned in their own half, but initially that did not seem to faze them. Indeed, it almost suited them and they took the lead against the run of play thanks to a superb counter attack ending with Diogo Jota squaring for Cristiano Ronaldo to score his third goal of the tournament.
Yet, Portugal seemed unable to build spells of possession and could only hold out for so long as Germany stretched play across the field. A cross from the right was volleyed back across goal by Gosens to deflect in off Ruben Dias' outstretched leg. The team in red would concede two similar goals in the following 16 minutes. First, Joshua Kimmich smashed the ball towards Raphael Guerreiro to put the hosts ahead at the interval, and then Kai Havertz turned in Gosens' low drive early in the second half.
Having provided so much to the German attack, it only seemed fair that his team mates lay on a goal for Gosens, who headed home a Kimmich cross to hand Joachim Low's side a three goal lead. Portugal ate into that when Ronaldo hooked a cross from the byline over Manuel Neuer for Jota to slot home, but in open play they lacked any real invention to break down the Germans, who sit level on points with Portugal, one behind France before their game against Group F's bottom side Hungary.
Gosens worth the German reshuffle
There have been times early in Euro 2020 when you wondered who was really benefitting from Low's move to a back three. Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan looked far too slow to cover the space they needed to while Thomas Muller, who has found great success as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1, looked uncomfortable as a right winger. Meanwhile the most progressive midfielder in the squad, Joshua Kimmich, was dumped wide on the right and the fact he was such a danger man there made you pine for him to be given the keys to the engine room.
The positional confusion early on was typified by Kai Havertz, who found himself as one of the men asked to defend space at an attacking corner, a plan that ended with the Chelsea forward playing first Jota and then Ronaldo onside for the game's opening goal.
Still, when Low's system clicks it looked devastating against Portugal, not least thanks to Atalanta's Gosens. The left wing back was battering Nelson Semedo down the Portugal right from minute one. The visiting team had been warned about his late runs into the box when his early volley was ruled out but no-one picked him up on the far side when he volleyed a cross into the net from an implausible angle.
Gosens on one side and Kimmich on the other consistently stretched Portugal's four man defense, often making it look like a back six with defensive midfielders William Carvalho and Danilo Pereira dropping in, to what may as well have been breaking point. Portuguese defenders didn't know where their teammates nor their opponents were, an ingredient for the sort of nervy interventions that saw Dias and Guerreiro turn balls into their own net.
Germany could just keep spamming the same trick, stretch the ball out wide, thump it across goal and assume that the ball is going to go in off someone. Santos attempted to adjust his approach at half time, but if Renato Sanches was supposed to offer more support to Semedo it didn't show in the third goal. Neither did it with Rafa for the fourth. Other teams cannot possibly be so inviting but Gosens will certainly ask the question.
Do Portugal have a real plan?
Beyond defending well in numbers and counter attacking quickly what is this Portugal team about? It is worth saying that those two facets alone can win you more games than not at international level, particularly when you have quality like Dias at one end of the pitch and Ronaldo at the other.
However, you may find matches where you need more convincing avenues to goal than set pieces like Portugal's second goal, or counterattacks like their first. Sometimes routines don't come off and there are days where more often than not the counterattacks don't click.
Chasing the game's seventh goal, one which would have brought them back into the match, they had so few ideas as to how they might move Germany's defense into awkward positions. The ball was spread wide to the right flank. A few passes. Nothing doing there. Back infield. Back to the right. The individual brilliance of Renato Sanches nearly brought them a goal but 30 yard howitzers are not an effective strategy.
Sanches, it should be noted, at least looked like a player who might bridge the chasm between Portugal's back six and their front four. There are few others in Santos' squad who offer that and he merits an opportunity from the outset against France next week.
Yet, in its totality, this does not seem to be a team that is effective at responding to the game that is in front of them. It was bizarre to see Germany score the same goal over and over again without Portugal actually doing anything about it. Yes Semedo was having a horror show defensively, yet three separate players -- Bernardo Silva, Renato Sanches and Rafa -- offered him no protection from further up the right flank. Equally, the defensive midfield duo neither disrupted the German supply line from central areas to the German flanks nor put clearing heads or boots on the crosses that came this way.
Portugal have the feeling of a team that may yet go places due to their individual quality but if an opponent can find their weak points this team may not be able to hold them at bay.