Ballack’s goal sends Germany into Euro 2008 quarterfinal (Lead)June 17th, 2008 - 7:05 am ICT by IANS
Vienna, June 17 (DPA) A memorable goal from veteran captain Michael Ballack gave Germany a 1-0 win over Austria Monday, in a tense but low-quality Euro 2008 clash. The deserved defeat puts co-hosts Austria out of the tournament and sends Germany into a quarter-final encounter against Portugal in Basel Thursday.
Josef Hickersberger’s dull team needed to win to reach the quarter-finals, but never looked capable of doing so.
“We played quite well but we weren’t good enough up fron at the end of the day. We didn’t have too many chances and Germany had a number of opportunities at the end when we threw everything forward,” Hickersperger said.
“We lost to a sensational free-kick from Michael Ballack and we have to say congratulations to that.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew said: “I am satisfied with the win because there was enormous pressure on us.”
Ballack said: “It was a difficult game for us because we had everything to lose but we put up a great fight.”
“We could have scored at the beginning and then it would have been a lot calmer for us. There was a lot at stake and we knew it would be a difficult game. The most important thing is that we fought well.”
Croatia - who beat Poland 1-0 in Klagenfurt - finish top of Group with nine points and will meet surprise package Turkey in the quarters.
Germany finished second with six points and will face Portugal.
Austria and Poland finished joint bottom of Group B with just one point apiece.
The Ernst Happel Stadion was packed to noisy capacity for the clash of neighbours, but was soon silenced by the aggressive start made by the Germans.
The visitors should have gone ahead after just five minutes, but the hapless Mario Gomez astonishingly missed from five metres, after being perfectly set up by Miroslav Klose.
It was the prelude to another dismal display from Gomez, one of the major flops of the tournament.
Just before half-time, Spanish referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez bizarrely sent off both coaches for arguing with the fourth official.
Hickersberger and Joachim Loew had little choice but to go up to the VIP box, bizarrely rubbing shoulders with the politicians and bigwigs.
Loew said: “I can’t understand this. We are the coaches and only want to work in our coaching zone. That is our job.
“I only said to the fourth official we want to give our instructions. It is an important game and we have the right to give instructions.”
Ballack put Austria out of their misery in the 49th minute by breaking the deadlock with a blistering 25-metre belter, after a short free-kick.
Germany should have scored more goals on the break. Austria battled manfully until the bitter end, but travelling more in hope than expectation.
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