Michael Ballack’s stunning second-half strike earned Germany a last eight tie against Portugal at the expense of co-hosts Austria.
Germany go through to meet Portugal, but on this evidence they will have to improve significantly if they harbour serious aspirations to win the competition.
Germany should have taken the lead on four minutes, but the ineffectual Mario Gomez somehow contrived to miss from two yards. The chance was created by the willing Klose who teed up the Stuttgart striker for a simple tap-in, but the ball ballooned off Gomez before being scrambled to safety. It was an astonishing miss, from a player whose confidence appears shot at the moment.
After that early scare Austria began to gain in confidence, but their failing were immediately transparent. Josef Hickersberger’s side knew they had to win the game to progress and the coach cannot have faulted his side for their effort. However, the lack of a killer punch in the final third that had plagued them throughout the tournament, again proved to be their undoing. Germany, meanwhile, seemed content to secure the draw that would guarantee progression to the knockout stages.
Germany’s reticence to commit men forward, combined with Austria’a lack of quality, contributed to a curiously low-key affair – all the more surprising given the local rivalry, not to mention the prize at stake.
The best effort of the first half fell to Lukas Podolski, but the Bayern Munich striker saw his long-range effort palmed away by Juergen Macho.
So tepid was the contest that attention was drawn to the touchline where a livelier encounter between the respective coaches was taking place. With both men arguing with the fourth official, the referee was forced to intervene and send both men to the stands for the rest of the game.
Germany emerged after the break with a renewed vigour and they only had to wait four minutes to take the lead.
The impressive Lahm was upended after a roaming run took him to the edge of the Austrian box, and from the resulting free-kick Ballack stepped up and struck a venomous shot into Macho’s top-left corner.
From that point on Germany looked a more relaxed outfit. Austria made changes and poured men forward in search of an equaliser, but Jens Lehmann was never really tested.
Torsten Frings and Klose went close to adding a second late on with well-struck efforts, but in the end the stupendous strike from Ballack was enough for Germany.
Austria 0-1 Germany
Scorer: Michael Ballack 49
Austria: 21-Juergen Macho; 14-Gyorgy Garics, 3-Martin Stranzl, 17-Martin Hiden (8-Christoph Leitgeb 55), 4-Emanuel Pogatetz; 20-Martin Harnik (18-Roman Kienast 67), 6-Rene Aufhauser (19-Juergen Saeumel 63), 10-Andreas Ivanschitz, 5-Christian Fuchs, 11-Umit Korkmaz; 22-Erwin Hoffer
Germany: 1-Jens Lehmann; 3-Arne Friedrich, 17-Per Mertesacker, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 16-Philipp Lahm; 4-Clemens Fritz (18-Tim Borowski 90+2), 8-Torsten Frings, 13-Michael Ballack, 20-Lukas Podolski (10-Oliver Neuville 83); 9-Mario Gomez (15-Thomas Hitzlsperger 60), 11-Miroslav Klose
Referee: Manuel Mejuto (Spain)