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EURO Classics: Portugal 2-3 Germany

Watch this all-guns-blazing EURO 2008 quarter-final IN FULL on UEFA.tv – and get background here.

Portugal had breezed through to the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals; for Germany, it had been a bit of a battle. When the sides met in Basel, sparks flew.

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Context

Watch great Germany EURO goals
Watch great Germany EURO goals

Both semi-finalists at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Portugal and Germany were expected to thrive at the EURO in Austria and Switzerland. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side progressed with wins in their first two group matches, but Germany had a tougher time, losing their second game to Croatia (with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger sent off for a petulant shove) then scraping through with a 1-0 win against Austria – in which Austria boss Josef Hickersberger and Germany coach Joachim Löw were dismissed for a touchline altercation.

The suspended 'Schweini' sat next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the Austria match, and was told "not to do anything stupid again". It was advice he took on board: "If the chancellor asks you to do something, you have to obey!"

Key players

Deco: In his final season at Barcelona, the Brazilian-born midfielder had had an underwhelming domestic campaign, but remained the elegant, inventive core of this Portuguese squad. He had a hand in one of Portugal's goals against Germany, and was their main creative outlet.

Michael Ballack: A powerful presence, the Chelsea midfielder was known for his fierce long-range shots, but in Basel he was at his relentless best, bruising and battering Portugal. Löw called him a player who "exudes authority and calm on the pitch". Here, Ballack was at his best.

Bastian Schweinsteiger after scoring the opener against Portugal
Bastian Schweinsteiger after scoring the opener against PortugalAFP via Getty Images

Bastian Schweinsteiger: Then 23, the all-action Bayern midfielder had to make amends after missing the previous game through suspension. He had scored twice against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup third-place play-off. Could he hurt Scolari's team again?

What happened?

With the suspended Löw replaced by assistant Hans-Dieter Flick, Germany ceded control to Portugal early on, but scored twice in quick succession in the middle of the first half. Schweinsteiger slid in to convert Lukas Podolski's cross, then the scorer set up the second, his free-kick headed in by the reliable Miroslav Klose. However, Portugal did not despair and had one back by the interval, captain Nuno Gomes pouncing after a Cristiano Ronaldo shot was saved.

Deco had a goal disallowed for offside after the break, and also flicked on a corner from which Pepe should have scored, but German nerves jangled less after Ballack manoeuvred his way into position to nod in another Schweinsteiger free-kick. Portugal went for broke, Hélder Postiga turning home a cross from fellow substitute Nani, before time ran out.

Reaction

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany midfielder: "It really looks like Portugal are my favourite opponents! We are now among the top four teams and that's sensational. We have ousted the team that, in my book, were the best so far in the tournament."

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

Luiz Felipe Scolari, Portugal coach: "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. The times we have spent together and the dedication of the players make me proud to have worked with this group."

Hans-Dieter Flick, Germany stand-in coach: "Germany are a real tournament team and can be very focused when it comes to the crunch. I had a bet and said today we would score from a set piece. There were two of them, so maybe I should have doubled the stake!"

Elsewhere that evening

There were no other matches on 19 June 2008, but more drama followed the next day as Croatia and Turkey met in the second quarter-final. Ivan Klasnić put Croatia in front on 119 minutes, but Semih Şentürk managed to level before the final whistle, and then Turkey prevailed on penalties in Vienna. Coach Fatih Terim said: "We always do the hard thing, not the easy thing, which shows how good my team are."

Aftermath

EURO 2008 semi-final highlights: Germany 3-2 Turkey
EURO 2008 semi-final highlights: Germany 3-2 Turkey

Germany returned to Basel for another epic tie in the semis, a late Philipp Lahm effort finally securing a 3-2 win against Turkey. However, their magic touch deserted them in the final as Spain won 1-0 in Vienna – that scoreline doing scant justice to Spanish dominance on the day. Löw stayed in position, and Germany eventually made good on their promise, lifting the 2014 World Cup (and mauling Scolari's Brazil on the way).

As planned, Scolari stood down as Portugal boss after the finals to take over at Chelsea – where Germany's Ballack was one of his star players. Having lost the final of UEFA EURO 2004 on home soil, the national team finally won their first major tournament under Fernando Santos at UEFA EURO 2016 – Cristiano Ronaldo one of a number of 2008 veterans in the ranks.

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