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Croatia slump inspired us, says Ballack

sports Updated: Jun 20, 2008 18:12 IST

AFP
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Germany captain Michael Ballack said his side used the criticism leveled at them after their shock group stage defeat by Croatia to knock Portugal out of Euro 2008 with a 3-2 victory.

The 31-year-old Chelsea midfielder scored Germany's third goal to sink Portugal on Thursday after Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and striker Miroslav Klose had scored first-half goals.

The Germans only made the last eight as Group B runners up behind Croatia thanks to an uninspiring 1-0 win over Austria on Monday, but they turned in a five-star performance against a subdued Portugal, who showed none of the sparkling form which impressed in Group A.

And Ballack insists his side are now back to their best ahead of next Wednesday's semi-final here at Basel's St Jakob-Park stadium against the winner of today's Croatia-Turkey quarter-final in Vienna.

"After the Croatia game, we had a small low," said Ballack, who headed home Schweinsteiger's free-kick for Germany's third goal.

"We were not happy about the performance against Croatia, or the criticism we had to take.

"The team were outstanding against Austria, even though the pressure was immense.

"Against Portugal, we showed how well we can play and we are now at the level we need to be."

And Germany defender Philipp Lahm says the belief in the German camp is so strong they can go all the way to the final in Vienna on June 29.