BASEL (Switzerland) (AFP) - Germany captain Michael Ballack said his side used the criticism levelled 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 is now back to their best ahead of next Wednesday's semi-final here at Basel's St. Jakob-Park stadium against the winner of Friday'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. "Belief is everything," said the Bayern Munich star. "Otherwise nothing is possible. We played with so much courage. "We won against Portugal and now we are in the semi-final, that has all been done with team spirit." Attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski said the team wanted to win for Germany coach Joachim Loew, who was banned from the sidelines after being sent off against Austria for arguing with the fourth official. Podolski brushed off a calf injury he suffered against Austria to supply the pin-point accurate cross which Schweinsteiger converted to kick-start the victory. "We had to accept UEFA's decision and play with or without the coach, but we wanted to win for him," said Podolski, who has scored three times so far. "It doesn't matter now who we get in the semi-final, we will be ready."