Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hosts finish off in style

Germany 3-1 Portugal

An open and enterprising game that whilst goalless at half time burst into life in the second period.

Both teams looked to attack throughout the game. As per usual Portugal saw a lot of the ball, constantly making those neat passes in and around the midfield and on the edge of the box, but never seeming to have the desire to attack at real pace and with any directness. Pauleta, again employed in the lone striker role, did something we haven't seen much from him in this tournament, going off on his own little dribble to set himself up for a shot - but still he was unable to add to the 1 goal he scored after only 4 minutes against Angola.

The first half was not as good as the second but it still afforded some entertainment - Sebastian Kehl having a good shot in the penalty area that was deflected wide for a corner. Schweinsteiger then played in Klose but his shot was blocked. Pauleta had a great chance after a fine ball from Sabrosa saw him attempt to curl it round the imposing figure of Kahn, a good save resulting. Kehl also tried an audacious lob over Ricardo but he was acrobatically up to the task. In fact Kehl who had barely seen any minutes during the World Cup was having an excellent game while Ballack's injury kept him warming the bench. Podolski hit a stinging free kick that Ricardo did well to deal with and Deco was afforded too much space in the penalty area and blazed over.

The second half though saw 4 goals. After 10 minutes or so Schweinsteiger smashed a dipping swerving shot which moved around in the air so viciously, and was hit with such venom that Ricardo was left with little chance. Schweinsteiger had been left out of the semi, and despite most viewing him as a key man in the German team had had less game time than expected. Here he was letting everyone know that he was still around! Thereupon ensued chance after chance. Lahm volleyed over before a Schweinsteiger free kick induced Petit to slice the ball into his own goal. Portugal would really have to fire now. Deco had a good shot but Kahn was equal to it. In fact Kahn was in fantastic form throughout the match, trying to make the point that he and not Lehmann should be first choice.

Scolari brought on Gomes for Valente, followed by Figo for Pauleta. Figo had been left on the bench but here was the chance for him to bow out in style. Figo almost immediately set up Ronaldo but his shot wasn't quite up to the task. Then seconds later and Schweinsteiger was celebrating another wonder goal, curling in a long range effort which left Ricardo with no chance. There were still a couple more chances for the Portugese including a decent free kick from Ronaldo but finally on 88 minutes Portugal got their consolation. Figo floated in a lovely ball for Gomes to head home as the two subs combined.

Kahn was denied a clean sheet but he had an amazing game. Schweinsteiger was inspired. Ronaldo showed the most positive intent for Portugal, Deco made some wonderful long distance passes inch perfect.

Kahn, Figo and Pauleta announced their retirement from international football and the Germans took 3rd place.


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