FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Germany crushes Costa Rica 4-2

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Miroslav Klose gave Germany a great victory in the first game of the World Cup. The host nation scored four times to get their campaign off to a rousing start but the ease with which Paulo Wanchope bagged his brace of goals asked uncomfortable questions about the quality of German central defenders.

In fact, Germany and Costa Rica had never met before last night and in front of just under 60,000 persons in Munich's new stadium they were expected to defy historical precedent by opening the 2006 Cup with a display of decent football. In the end, there was no doubt that they delivered.

With Ballack out, Bernd Schneider was the captain. However, Ballack's role as the creative hub was taken by Tim Borowski, the gangling 26-year-old Werder Bremen midfielder.

According to his club-mate, Frings is the successor to Jens Jeremies as a hard-tackling defensive midfield player, went the distinction of committing the first foul of the 2006 World Cup when he brought down Walter Centeno just inside the German half with barely 30 seconds gone. And two minutes later Frings also hit the first shot of the tournament, sending a 25-yard drive dipping over José Porras's bar with the aid of a slight deflection. It was a foretaste of the swerving drive with which, 85 minutes later, the same footballer would complete the night's scoring.

However, it was another defender who set the match alight with a marvellous goal in the sixth minute. We noticed that the Costa Ricans sensed no danger when the diminutive Lahm took possession wide on the left before cutting inside and, still 30 yards out, unleashing a right-foot shot that curled over Porras's vain leap and inside the far angle. As we saw, Germany were looking likely to increase their lead when Costa Rica struck back.

And in the 12th minute an incisive three-man move transferred the ball to Wanchope, who beat the offside trap with the leggy nonchalance familiar to the supporters of West Ham, Derby County and Manchester City before striding clear to sweep the ball to the goal.

With Klinsmann gesticulating and shouting encouragement from the technical area, Germany regained the lead in the 17th minute. Schneider made ground down the right and cut the ball back to Schweinsteiger, whose run into the area drew the defence and made space for Klose to touch home his shot at the far post.

Forward Lukas Podolski opened the second half by driving narrowly over from 20 yards but Costa Rica missed a great chance to equalise in the 48th minute when Danny Fonseca made an unseen late run to meet Centeno's corner and, completely unmarked, headed wide of the far post.

Costa Rica tried to respond, and Centenos's probing paid off in the 73rd minute when he bypassed the centre- backs with a clever ball that encouraged Wanchope to stride in and flip the ball over the plunging Lehmann. But when Frings lashed the ball home from 30 yards with three minutes left, it was the cue for wild celebrations among fans for whom the incessant criticisms of Klinsmann's regime will, for the time being, be set firmly aside.


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