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STUTTGART, July 9 (Reuters) - Bastian Schweinsteiger proved a point with two of the hardest-hit goals of the World Cup when Germany swept aside Portugal 3-1 on Saturday to earn third place.

The powerful midfielder fired home two piledrivers for the first and third Germany goals and his well struck free kick was deflected in for the second by Portugal substitute Petit.

Not surprisingly, Schweinsteiger, who had been left out of the starting lineup against Italy in Germany's 2-0 semi-final defeat, was named Man of the Match.

'I just hit it in full stride and was hoping one of our guys would get to the ball - and was lucky that it was a Portugal player who got to it,' said Schweinsteiger of the own-goal that gave Germany a 2-0 lead.

The 21-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder had his best match of the World Cup, after sitting out the first 72 minutes of Germany's 2-0 semi-final loss to Italy.

Schweinsteiger had a strong start in Germany's first match against Costa Rica but his performance fell off after that and he was dropped for the semi-final.

'We had to forget about Italy,' he said. 'It's a wonderful thing to get two goals for Germany,' said Schweinsteiger, who has nine international goals and 34 caps. 'I had two against Russia too. But it's special to get two in the World Cup. What's important is the whole team played well.'

Schweinsteiger said the future looked bright for the German national team.

'Everything is fitting so well together. The players are all happy about the way things are running, the coaches are and everything fits perfectly. Just think about how close we were to making it to the final,' he continued.

Schweinsteiger paid tribute to the crowd - both at the stadium and in front of their Stuttgart hotel.

'We were welcomed at the hotel as if we had won the World Cup,' he said. 'It's delightful to play a match like this in front of a super crowd.'