Mario Gomez banished his stage fright suggestions at the focal point of an impressive Germany.
Last Updated: 13/06/12 10:39pm
Throughout his career, Mario Gomez has been accused of failing to produce when the occasion most demands. He has in the past faced criticism for perceived stage fright at the top level. Not anymore.
The Germany and Bayern Munich striker provided a brutal display of predatory finishing in Wednesday night's victory over Holland, who were among Euro 2012's pre-tournament favourites but are now facing the prospect of elimination from the group stages.
In ruthless first-half finishing, Gomez scored from his only two shots of the opening 45 minutes with beautiful simplicity. Having also scored the winner in Germany's victory over Portugal , he is now just one goal short of becoming his country's first player since the legendary Gerd Muller in 1976 to score at least four times at a European Championship finals.
Gomez's performance for Bayern in the UEFA Champions League final defeat on penalties by Chelsea in May was seen as a personification of his career as he and his team-mates produced 18 attempts off target before losing on spot-kicks at the Allianz Arena.
Right place, right time
Admittedly it was a night the 26-year-old would rather forget but it is also worth remembering that even after missing several chances, he still had the stomach to successfully convert his penalty in the shoot-out. He also scored 12 goals in total in last season's Champions League to finish just two behind Lionel Messi.
Former Germany international Mehmet Scholl, who was working as a pundit for a German broadcaster, criticised Gomez for his work-rate against Portugal and it is certainly an issue that, at 6ft 2in, he lacks a degree of mobility.
Questions over his general fitness will also remain after he left the field against Holland in the 72nd minute, appearing as if he has completed a couple of back-to-back marathons when in fact he had only covered a comparatively low 8,682 metres.
But this is not what Gomez is about. He has that knack of being in the right place at the right time. He scored with his sixth and 12th touch against Holland and, along with Russia's Alan Dzagoev is leading the race for this summer's Golden Boot.
Gomez scored 26 Bundesliga goals for Bayern in 2011/12 and gave English viewers an early-season glimpse of what he is capable of when scoring twice from two shots on target against Manchester City in Germany in the Champions League.
His game is based on anticipation and that was demonstrated against Holland, particularly when spinning off the back of Joris Mathijsen to score his second goal after good build-up from team-mate Lukas Podolski.
Gomez might not get through the leg work of some strikers but Joachim Low's Germany are built to accommodate his style of play. His job is not to get involved away from the 18-yard area. He is the man who finishes moves.
Liverpool fans have long been ruing the fact they failed to complete the signing of the forward when he was out of favour at Bayern in the summer of 2010. Then manager Roy Hodgson wanted Gomez but could not finalise a deal.