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Euro 2016: Germany can’t break through in draw with Poland

Thomas Mueller (L) of Germany and Michal Pazdan

Thomas Mueller (L) of Germany and Michal Pazdan of Poland in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 group C preliminary round match between Germany and Poland at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, 16 June 2016. Credit: EPA/ SRDJAN SUKI

SAINT-DENIS, France — Germany and Poland played out the first goalless draw of the European Championship on Thursday in a dour match at the Stade de France.

A glaring miss was fittingly the key moment of a Group C match that led to Ukraine becoming the first team to be eliminated from Euro 2016.

Arkadiusz Milik, who scored Poland’s winner against Northern Ireland on Sunday, miscued a header as he fell to his knees in Germany’s goalmouth and the ball bounced just wide of Manuel Neuer’s right-hand post.

That error, less than 20 seconds into the second half, hinted at better things after a lifeless first period.

However, neither team could sustain any attacking pressure, and a point suits both after their opening wins. Ukraine will finish last in the group after a pair of 2-0 losses, first to Germany then against Northern Ireland earlier Thursday.

Poland fans in a crowd of 73,648 cheered loudly at the final whistle, and coach Adam Nawalka turned and applauded to his staff and substitutes in the dugout.

Germany was playing at the stadium for the first time since the Nov. 13 attacks which claimed the lives of 130 people in the Paris area - carried out on the night of its friendly against France.

Both teams played as if a draw was a decent night’s work, and arguably a product of the newly expanded 24-team format for the championship.

Now that most third-place teams advance from the groups, four points will likely ensure a place in the round of 16.

Presented with a second good chance, Milik produced missed the ball completely in the 69th minute when teed up at the penalty spot by another Kamil Grosicki pass.

Seconds later, Germany broke forward and Mesut Ozil’s curling chipped shot was tipped over by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

When Poland’s feared forward Robert Lewandowski got his only clear sight of goal, Bayern Munich teammate Jerome Boateng came in with a well-timed saving tackle.

Thomas Mueller’s deft pass in the 86th set up Benedikt Hoewedes with a chance to win it for Germany but the right-back wanted an extra touch and was shut down.

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