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Portugal ousted from EURO 2008 quarter-finals by Germany power show

Portugal 2-3 Germany
Joachim Löw's side benefited from aerial supremacy to edge out the Group A winners in the quarter-finals.

EURO 2008 highlights: Portugal 2-3 Germany
EURO 2008 highlights: Portugal 2-3 Germany

Germany progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championship for the first time since 1996 as goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Michael Ballack secured a 3-2 victory over Portugal in Basel.

EURO 2008: All you need to know

The Mannschaft ended up lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup that year and the way they raised their game to meet the challenge of a Portugal side that refused to lie down – halving a two-goal deficit twice through first Nuno Gomes and then, in the dying minutes, Hélder Postiga – augurs well for Joachim Löw's team.

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2008
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2008

By contrast, it was a night when the worst fears of Portugal's Chelsea FC-bound coach Luiz Felipe Scolari were realised, his pre-match nightmares about Germany's aerial superiority materialising in the form of headed goals by Klose and Ballack. Portugal were semi-finalists in 2000 and runners-up in 2004 and Scolari had hoped to take that final step at UEFA EURO 2008 but his farewell party fell flat at St. Jakob-Park, where Portugal were overpowered by opponents who shrugged aside impressively their occasional first-stage torpor.

With Simão probing down the right, Scolari's men appeared to be finding their stride as they offered the first threat on goal when Bosingwa crossed and João Moutinho, free of his marker but seemingly caught in two minds, steered the ball over at the near post with his knee. Yet in the 22nd minute they fell behind.

Great EURO 2008 saves: Casillas, Buffon and more
Great EURO 2008 saves: Casillas, Buffon and more

It was a wonderfully worked goal too, swift passing between Philipp Lahm, Ballack and Lukas Podolski advancing the ball down the left, with Podolski bursting clear to drive in a low cross which Schweinsteiger converted with a sliding finish. Schweinsteiger's coach Löw had told the midfielder he had a "debt" to his team-mates after his red card against Croatia and here, in his first start of the finals, he resembled a man on a mission.

Scorer of two goals against Portugal at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Schweinsteiger was the architect of their second here too, drifting a free-kick into the Portugal box which Klose, ghosting clear of the red shirts, headed past Ricardo. Raul Meireles replaced the injured Moutinho and Portugal went in search of a lifeline. It came via captain Nuno Gomes five minutes before the break.

EURO 2008 official song: Enrique Iglesias
EURO 2008 official song: Enrique Iglesias

Simão's crossfield ball sent Ronaldo racing clear of Per Mertesacker down the inside-left channel and though Jens Lehmann blocked his shot, Gomes was first to the rebound, striking first time into the net via the foot of Christoph Metzelder, defending desperately on the line. It was Gomes's sixth goal on the European stage over three tournaments – a scoring span only achieved by Jürgen Klinsmann, Thierry Henry and Vladimír Šmicer before him.

Ronaldo was a whisker away from an equaliser moments before half-time, flashing the ball past Lehmann yet just wide of the far post. Deco did find the net shortly after the interval but was in an offside position and the little midfielder then flicked on a Simão corner to set up Pepe, only for the defender to nod over.

Ballack showed him how it should be done in the 61st minute when – to the displeasure of his future manager – he shrugged off Chelsea FC team-mate Paulo Ferreira and beat Ricardo to another Schweinsteiger free-kick to head home. Scolari sent on Nani and Postiga as Portugal chased the game and the pair combined to ensure a nervy finale when Postiga headed in from Nani's left-wing delivery but the glimmer of hope was soon extinguished.

Reaction

Cristiano Ronaldo and Nuno Gomes celebrate a Portugal goal
Cristiano Ronaldo and Nuno Gomes celebrate a Portugal goalAFP via Getty Images

Hans-Dieter Flick, Germany assistant coach: "I had a bet and said today we would score from a set-piece. There were two of them, so maybe I should double the stake. I was certain we would score from a dead ball as Portugal take risks in those situations. We have so many players who are very good in the air and we showed we're excellent from set-pieces."

Luiz Felipe Scolari, Portugal coach: "We had assigned certain players to mark Ballack and other German players, but at free-kicks our players went with different players and Germany made the most of it. I am the main person responsible for us not being in the last four because I choose the players and the tactics. I am very disappointed because we had the quality to reach the semi-finals but in a decisive game like this we made mistakes in concentration."

EURO 2008: Team of the Tournament

Lineups

Germany line up for the anthems
Germany line up for the anthemsIcon Sport via Getty Images

Portugal: Ricardo; Paulo Ferreira, Carvalho, Pepe, Bosingwa; Simão, Moutinho (Raul Meireles 31), Deco, Petit (Hélder Postiga 73), Ronaldo; Nuno Gomes (c) (Nani 67)
Substitutes: Nuno, Rui Patrício, Bruno Alves, Fernando Meira, Hugo Almeida, Miguel, Jorge Ribeiro, Quaresma, Miguel Veloso
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

Germany: Lehmann; Lahm, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Friedrich; Hitzlsperger (Borowski 73), Ballack (c), Rolfes, Schweinsteiger (Fritz 83); Podolski, Klose (Jansen 89)
Substitutes
: Enke, Adler, Westermann, Frings, Gómez, Neuville, Trochowski, Odonkor, Kuranyi
Coach: Hans-Dieter Flick

Referee: Peter Fröjdfeldt (Sweden)

Man of the Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)