Friday, June 20, 2008

Germany stuns Portugal to cliam first spot in semi-finals

Germany got out to a quick 1-0 lead and when Portugal tried to press it was 2-0 before the match was a half-hour old. Portugal gave themselves hope four minutes before the break through Nuno Gomes, who became just the third man behind Jurgen Klinsmann and Vladimir Smicer to score in three European Championships. But Michael Ballack restored Germany's two-goal lead in the 61st minute from another Schweinsteiger free-kick, and although substitute Helder Postiga pulled another one back for Portugal with three minutes left, Germany held on. In the end the German air superiority proved to be the difference as despite trying to prevent them from getting frivolous corners and set piece opportunities, two of the goals came from the air, one in particular where there was so much clearance that Klose could use his shoulder rather than his kopf. So let the controversy begin on Ballack’s header, how is the call not made? Yes, it was a slight push but he only need a sight advantage to get enough space for a clear shot, and that proved to be the difference. A similar play was call in favor of the host Austria giving them a penalty kick in extra time to earn a draw. If a foul on Ballack was called it would not have changed the flow like the result of the non-call, which gave the Germans an insurmountable lead. Needless to say Portugal’s score with less than 5 minutes to play would have taken on entirely new significance. Once again the lack of consistency of the refs takes center stage.

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