Germany surprises Portugal in Euros, 3-2


June 20, 2008

Almost from the outset, it was Germany, not Portugal, that showed flair. It was the Germans, a group runner-up, who dominated the Portuguese, a group winner.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, coming off a suspension, scored one goal and set up two more last night in Basel, Switzerland, leading Germany over Portugal, 3-2, and into the European Championship semifinals.

It was the first time Germany moved into the final four since it won Euros in 1996, and the first time Portugal failed to make the semifinals in the past three major international tournaments.

Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose also scored for Germany off free kicks by Schweinsteiger. Nuno Gomes and Helder Postiga had goals for Portugal.

In the battle between Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Chelsea's Ballack, the German came out on top. He delivered the deciding blow when heading in the third goal in the 61st minute, shoving away Paulo Ferreira and heading the ball past goalkeeper Ricardo, who was out of position.

The Germans started the upset with a move in the best Portuguese tradition. Lukas Podolski set up a couple of short passing combinations and then sped down left wing like Ronaldo would do. In the center, Schweinsteiger beat Ferreira, and given the perfect low cross, right-footed it past Ricardo from close range.

The Portuguese were surprised at such light-footed creativity from the Germans and before they knew it, they were down 2-0.

Et cetera -- In Suwon, South Korea, the U.S. women earned a place in the championship game of the Peace Queen Cup with a 2-0 victory over Italy behind two goals by Abby Wambach. The U.S. will face Canada in tomorrow's title game. ... The June 4 postponed game between MLS' Houston Dynamo and D.C. United has been rescheduled for July 22 at RFK Stadium.

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