Germany will face Portugal in a fascinating quarter-final showdown after Joachim Low’s side limped past Austria with a narrow 1-0 victory over the co-hosts in Vienna.
slot gacor stunning 49th minute free-kick was enough for Germany to sign off their Group B campaign on a high, but they will certainly need to improve against an impressive Portugal unit if they are to go any further in Euro 2008.
Defeat for Austria means they joined fellow co-hosts Switzerland in failing to make it out of the group stages of their own tournament.
Josef Hickersberger’s side knew that a win over Germany would have seen them and not the pre-tournament favourites qualify for the last eight, but they never really looked capable of causing an upset in front of a partisan 50,000 crowd.
Austria showed plenty of spirit and desire, but they ultimately lacked quality in the final third and failed to significantly test Jens Lehmann in the opposition goal throughout a disappointing 90 minutes.
Germany would have been ahead with only five minutes on the clock had Mario Gomez not been guilty of the miss of the tournament so far.
Miroslav Klose’s low cross through the six-yard box bobbled up and struck the shins of the Stuttgart striker and he could only watch in horror as the ball ballooned up in the air and Gyuri Garics cleared off the line.
In a first half devoid of much goalmouth action, the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock after that was a thunderous 20-yard strike from Lukas Podolski which Jurgen Macho turned around his post with a smart save. Austria had sights of goal as Erwin Hoffer went down under a clumsy challenge from Christoph Metzelder after 18 minutes but the referee ruled that no infringement had taken place.
The same player was also unlucky to see Lehmann nip the ball off his toes when he had beaten the offside trap to meet a low cross.
Both Josef Hickersberger and Joachim Low were sent to the stands on the stroke of half-time for a touchline argument between the two coaches which was out of character in a decidedly low-key game.
After the interval, moments of attacking brilliance continued to be at a premium until Ballack illuminated a lacklustre game with a stunning strike which could well prove to be the goal of the tournament.
The Germany captain let fly with a 30-yard free-kick which found the top right-hand corner of the net and left the diving Macho grasping at fresh air.
Philipp Lahm and Klose had half-chances snuffed out by the outstretched legs of committed defenders as Germany were happy to play on the break after taking the lead.
Macho then dived in bravely to deny Klose when one-on-one, before substitute Oliver Neuville wasted a glorious chance to set the seal on the victory in stoppage time after dwelling on the ball and allowing the defence to regroup when he could have played in one of three team-mates.