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Ballack bails out German forwards
Germany will meet Portugal in the Euro 2008 quarters while Croatia will play Turkey.
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2008 21:05 GMT
Midfielder Michael Ballack ensured Germany's quarter-final berth with his 49th minute goal [GALLO/GETTY]
Michael Ballack, Chelsea midfielder, scored the only goal of the match as Germany progressed to a Euro 2008 quarter-final meeting with Portugal after their 1-0 win over Austria in Vienna.
 
In the other Group B match, Croatia completed a first round clean-sweep when beating Poland 1-0 thanks to an Ivan Klasnic goal early in the second half.
At the Ernst Happel Stadium, Ballack blasted in a 49th minute free kick from 25 metres, clocked at 121km per hour, as Germany's strikers once again came up short in a barely deserved win.
It was Ballack's 37th goal in 84 appearances and was enough to give Germany a place in the quarter-finals of the European Championship for the first time since they won the competition for the third time in 1996.

Ballack's first of the tournament continued a trend that his seen all four of Germany's goals come from midfield, with Lukas Podolski having contributed the others in a 2-0 win over Poland and a 2-1 defeat by Croatia.

"We should have got ahead right at the start."

Philipp Lahm,
Germany defender
Mario Gomez once again had a forgettable match at centre forward, while Miroslav Klose looked woefully out of form as he regularly opted to pass instead of shoot.

"We can improve just about everything," said fullback Philipp Lahm.

"...defensively, but also more scoring chances. We should have got ahead right at the start."

Lahm was referring to Gomez's glaring miss in the fifth minute when he missed an open goal from a metre out.

It was a second appalling miss of the tournament from Gomez, who failed from a similar position early in the Poland game.

Joachim Loew, German coach, will have got a good view of Germany's failures in the second half after he and Austrian counterpart Josef Hickersberger were sent off together after a touchline dispute with the fourth official.

Croatia clean-sweep

In Vienna, Croatia showed they are well-equipped to make a serious bid for the Euro 2008 title when their reserve team swept aside Poland 1-0 in their final Group B match.

The only goal came eight minutes into the second half from Klasnic, a striker who has undergone two kidney transplants in the last 18 months.
Poland went into the game needing to win by at least two goals to have any chance and with Croatia resting nine first-choice players they could not have had a better situation.

However, the team who qualified for the tournament by finishing above Portugal in their group, looked toothless up front and lacking in midfield creativity, shortcomings that contributed to their single goal return from three games.

Croatia's finishing was spot-on eight minutes into the second half though, when Danijel Pranjic crossed low from the left and Klasnic clipped a first-time shot past Artur Boruc to give them the lead and a subsequent victory they deserved.

Source:
Agencies
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