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Ballack thunderbolt puts Germany through

    25 January 2021 Monday

    Michael Ballack booked Germany's place in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008 after his thunderbolt free-kick earned a 1-0 victory in a bad-tempered Group B clash against co-hosts Austria in Vienna.

    Euro 2008
    Euro 2008

    The Chelsea midfielder has been unhappy with his displays in the tournament so far -- but he returned to the form of the last six months of the domestic season, lashing home a superb strike into the top corner just after the break at the Ernst Happel Stadium.

    It sets up a last-eight clash against his new club manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who will fulfil his Portugal duties before being unveiled at Stamford Bridge later this summer.

    However, Ballack's national coach, Joachim Loew, may not be in the dressing room at Basel's St Jakob-Park on Thursday.

    Loew, along with Austrian counterpart Josef Hickersberger, were sent to the stands four minutes before the break after bickering among themselves and with the fourth official. UEFA are likely to review the incident, with dismissals normally carrying a touchline ban.

    Germany's path to the last eight would have been clearer had Mario Gomez not wasted an open goal early in the match.

    Gomez's blunder came in the fifth minute after Miroslav Klose had composed himself in the area and crossed to present the chance to his strike partner.

    The Stuttgart forward would not have been given an easier opportunity in his career but he spooned his finish, allowing just enough time for Gyorgy Garics to get back and head off his own line.

    After weathering the early storm from Germany, Austria created chances of their own. Erwin Hoffer, an unused substitute in Austria's first two games, had a penalty appeal turned down when Christoph Metzelder wrestled with him in the area.

    Then Hoffer's touch betrayed him when Martin Harnik crossed to find him beyond Germany's defense.

    The game was always close to boiling over, and Lukas Podolski went down after an off-the-ball clash with Rene Aufhauser, then went eyeball to eyeball with Emanuel Pogatetz.

    The constant bickering on the sidelines got the coaches dismissed just before the break, with Loew picking up his blazer and heading for the stands.

    From his seat in the stands along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel nd the other VIPs, Loew watched Ballack open the scoring four minutes after the break, after Andreas Ivanschitz had fouled Philipp Lahm 22 meters from goal.

    Goalkeepers have complained about balls moving in the air too much but Ballack's free-kick was pure power and was still rising as it hit the top corner.

    Despite belying their position of 92nd in the FIFA world rankings, Austria began to ran out of steam. Germany survived a couple of late scares to progress and should have added to their tally on the counter-attack, notably when substitute Oliver Neuville fired wide when through on goal.


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