João Moutinho's stoppage-time strike denied Germany a ticket to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals as the hosts' last-gasp win took Serbia and Montenegro through in second place - level on points with these two sides but with the better goal difference between the three.
Tough on Germany, the result at least rewarded the home fans for their tremendous support. This possibly owed something to the fact Vitória SC, residents of this stadium, have just been relegated, the big occasion attracting a big crowd in Guimaraes – both may be scarce next season. What looked like a full house was treated to an end-to-end contest in which the shoot-on-sight policy of both teams showed the necessity of victory. The first to hit the target came on six minutes, Manuel Fernandes being denied by Michael Rensing after Raul Meireles's run had set him up. In response, Moritz Volz and Stefan Kiessling, a roving striker, linked up before giving Eugen Polanski – returning from injury and one of four Germany changes – the chance to fire into Daniel Fernandes's midriff.
The latter had replaced Bruno Vale, sidelined by a broken foot, as coach Agostinho Oliveira made six alterations of his own, three tactical. The Portugal ploy, it seemed, was to rely on forwards Silvestre Varela and Ricardo Quaresma drifting wide of their markers then combining with their midfielders. With speed and skill key ingredients, Nélson – like Volz a progressive right-back - played a one-two with Quaresma and crossed threateningly close to goal. Similarly, Varela's surge into the area presented Raul Meireles with the opportunity to flash an attempt narrowly wide.
The flanks also featured in the German artillery, with Roberto Hilbert and Kiessling among others ready to support Nando Rafael, no lone ranger. As the shots rained in on a sultry night, Rafael caused the biggest scare of the first half on 36 minutes, racing clear and sending a dipping half-volley just over. Another fright arrived four minutes after the interval. The ever-willing Polanski's angled drive from distance was well held by the keeper.
Despite Germany's strong restart, Portugal raised the biggest roar: substitute Lourenço sprinting away only for his cutback to fall short of Varela. The extra-sized pre-match marionettes representing both countries, not to mention the possible permutations for progress, suggested the fate of both sides would rest in the hands of the sporting gods. The hosts, requiring a three-goal win, nearly grabbed destiny by the neck on the hour when Meireles nodded Nélson's chip wide. Varela went still closer, bulleting a header over from Quaresma's free-kick. Portugal were benefiting from the twin threat of Varela and Lourenço.
Yet this was a trading of blows, and Kiessling should have struck a decisive one following Hilbert's run and cross. With the clock ticking, tempers frayed as Quaresma collided with Rensing - prompting the injured keeper's enforced substitution. As time ran out on Portugal's campaign, they made sure Germany suffered too when Moutinho volleyed in emphatically.
Carlsberg Man of the Match: Nélson