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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 13:11, July 01, 2006
Germany struggle into World Cup semifinals, oust Argentina 4-2 on penalty shootout
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Hosts Germany struggled into the 2006 World Cup top four, ousting Argentina 4-2 on penalty shootout in the quarterfinal which ended 1-1on Friday after extra-time.

Jose Pekerman said after the match that he won't coach Argentina any more.

"I think the cycle is over. I'm sure I'm not going to continue, " Pekerman said.

"It was a very exciting match. We also played like favorites and gave our best although we lost," he said.

"The penalties were a consequence of a very even match. It's a shame for Argentina who played very well and in the whole championship," he added.

German No. 1 goalkeeper Jens Lehmann denied the penalty shots from Argentine defender Roberto Ayala and midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to become the hero of the day. And Germany scored from their first four spot kicks.

"That was a quarter-final, but the big challenge is coming up now. People should celebrate. I'll get ready for Tuesday," said Lehmann after the match.

In the semifinals, Germany will meet the winners of Italy-Ukraine quarterfinal in Dortmund on Tuesday.

He said, "Germany's past shoot-out success had helped him in today's game."

Statistics show that Germany have never missed any penalties in the World Cup tournaments.

"As a German goalkeeper it is always expected of you that you will hold up in a penalty shoot-out," he said.

German coach Juergen Klinsmann praised the whole team for their solid defense and great confidence in the toughest duel they had ever met in the World Cup.

"I know Lehmann is good at denying penalties and his performance today proved that," Klinsmann said.

"Even they led us 1-0, I am sure we will come back to win," he added.

In the breath-taking duel, Argentina gained the lead first.

On 49 minutes, Argentine world-class playmaker Juan Riquelme's corner was met by defender Roberto Ayala who got ahead of German striker Miroslav Klose and steered a brillant header into the net.

Argentina had chances to add to their advantage, most notably when Carlos Tevez set up Maxi Rodriguez but his usually reliable shooting escaped him and he fired into the side-netting.

After leading 1-0, the Argentines focused on defense and sent in defensive midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to replace Riquelme.

However, the Argentine defense line was broken in the 80th minute when Michael Ballack's cross was nodded by Tim Borowski to Klose whose vital header equaled the score.

Ballack said that Germany deserved their shoot-out win.

"That was sensational. The match was maybe not so interesting for spectators but it was a match at a very high level," Ballack, who was named Man of the Match, said.

"The team fought to the end."

He added: "Of course, there's always luck when it comes to penalties but I think the team really deserved to win."

"We're on a good run at the moment. Since the start of the World Cup we've done very well and played at a very high level with very few mistakes," said Ballack.

Before the German goal, Argentine keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri got injured in colliding with Klose and was eventually replaced by Leonardo Franco.

Klinsmann hailed the host nation's fantastic fans after the match.

"It's difficult to find words. I'm incredibly happy, proud and thankful," he said.

"The fantastic crowd carried us, they believed in us. We knew that even down a goal we'd come back.

"We were convinced that if we got to penalties we'd advance. The belief we have in ourselves is really strong."

Both sides created some scoring chances in the 30-minute extra time but squandered all of them.

Argentina showed their super ball control in the first half with 65 percent possession. But the Germans stayed compact without any openings.

German substitute forward Oliver Neuville, who scored the first penalty of the shootout today, said: "Either side could have won it. We had the luck to do it. It was typically German."

"Neither team played very well. It was more of a fight. It was a difficult match. Our team didn't have many chances but thank God we won." he admitted.

It was a dramatic finish to a game that took a while to live up to its billing, with both sides failing to reproduce the all-out attacking football of their earlier four matches.

Germany had scored inside six minutes in three of their previous games, but there was no flying start this time despite being roared on by the majority of the 72,000 fans in the Olympia Stadium.

The match ended on a sour note when players and officials from both sides clashed on the pitch, with punches thrown between the rival camps.

FIFA are almost certain to view footage of the incident and could decide to take action against one or both of the teams.

Source: Xinhua

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