By Tim Dykes at the Bruchwegstadion
A blistering finish from Lourenço put Portugal into the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals at the expense of host-nation Germany thanks to an enthralling 2-1 win in Mainz.
The Portuguese had to win to keep alive their slim hopes of progressing from a pool already won by Sweden, and although Bastian Schweinsteiger's goal cancelled out Hugo Almeida's opener, Lourenço produced a 79th-minute marvel to earn his side a semi-final spot against Italy in Bochum on Saturday. However, he will miss that game through suspension, along with team-mates Raúl Meireles and Carlos Martins.
Germany coach Uli Stielike, whose decision to make nine changes ahead of his side's defeat against Sweden was criticised by the local press, fielded a side closely resembling that which defeated Switzerland last week. Of those that came in for the second match, only midfield player Sascha Riether and centre-half Robert Huth retained their places.
José Romão, without the suspended Ricardo Costa, made five changes to the side that conceded a late leveller against Switzerland and watched his charges make an encouraging start. The hosts were frustrated and had captain Hanno Balitsch booked for an early tackle on Meireles after Martins had blasted over from distance.
The pre-match talk had been centred on Lukas Podolski pressing for a place in Rudi Völler's senior squad for UEFA EURO 2004™ and although he cracked a sweetly-struck effort narrowly over from 20 metres it was Schweinsteiger, another senior hopeful, who shone brightest in the early stages. The FC Bayern München midfield player worked tirelessly and created space to use the ball intelligently throughout.
UD Leiria's João Paulo picked up a 22nd-minute booking for clattering into Schweinsteiger near the corner flag and although the ensuing free-kick unsettled the Portuguese defence, it also led to the opening goal at the other end. A quick clearance was swept forward and Almeida had time and space to lift the bouncing ball over the advancing Tim Weise and into the Germans' net.
Almeida could have doubled his side's lead six minutes later, heading just over from ten metres before Germany were denied twice in quick succession. Goalkeeper and captain Moreira saved from Balitsch before FSV Mainz 05's Benjamin Auer, playing on his home ground, saw his effort spectacularly blocked by João Paulo's goalline acrobatics.
Half-time substitute Lourenço was denied a clear run on goal by the offside flag but the second half was dominated by the Germans. Podolski saw his angled shot blocked and substitute Thomas Hitzlsperger's vicious free-kick drew a parry from Moreira. Auer then struck the bar from the edge of the area and drew a fine save from the Portugal goalkeeper with his follow-up header.
However, after Lourenço's powerful finish put Portugal in pole position, the home side were unable to beat Moreira and find the equaliser that would have carried them through. After a flurry of late yellow cards and a hectic three minutes of time added on, Romão's side held on to progress.