FOOTBALL NEWS

19/06/2008 21:02, Report by Ben Hibbs

End of the road for Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani were handed an early exit from Euro 2008 as an impressive Germany overpowered Portugal in the first of the tournament's quarter final clashes on Thursday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger gave the Germans the lead on 22 minutes following a swift attacking move down the left flank.

Then poor marking from a free-kick four minutes later allowed the unmarked Miroslav Klose to head in a second, leaving Portugal with plenty of work to do.

But Luiz Felipe Scolari's men never give up in an enthralling encounter and pulled a goal back five minutes before half time, Nuno Gomes slotting home after Jens Lehmann had saved Ronaldo's initial shot. A glimmer of hope.

However, after the break another set-piece undid Portugal's back line. Michael Ballack restored Germany's two-goal advantage on 61 minutes. Despite appearing to push his Chelsea team-mate Paulo Ferreira, Ballack headed past the stranded Ricardo to make it 3-1.

Portugal's see-sawing hopes of reviving their chances of a place in the last four took another twist on 87 minutes when Helder Postiga headed in substitute Nani's cross. Cue a frantic finish, but Germany held on to claim a victory that was probably deserved.

The defeat for Portugal means Edwin van der Sar is the sole surviving United representative in Austria and Switzerland. The Holland captain is next in action against Russia in Saturday's last eight meeting at Basel's St. Jakob-Park.

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