Potent Germany quash Sweden 2-0
Two goals by Podolski helped the hosts qualify for the quarter-finals of the WC.Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | Gamesindia Updated: Jun 24, 2006 23:01 IST
Lukas Podolski scored two early goals Saturday to give Germany a 2-0 win over Sweden and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Podolski scored in the fourth and 12th minutes, with forward partner Miroslav Klose playing a big role in both. Podolski now has three goals at the tournament.
"We scored two quick goals and that gave us confidence," Podolski said. "We were lucky with that penalty but we deserved to win."
Germany will play either Argentina or Mexico in the last eight. Those two teams played later Saturday in Leipzig. Sweden defender Teddy Lucic was sent off in the 35th and striker Henrik Larsson wasted a penalty in the 53rd to make matters even worse.
Germany has now won four games in a row, and has looked better in each.
"We've grown with the World Cup," Podolski said. Juergen Klinsmann took over as coach two years ago, promising to bring Germany its fourth World Cup title at home. It may not have been an empty promise.
Much maligned before the World Cup after a string of lackluster warmup matches, many Germans were skeptical of the team's chances. But the doubters have become believers and carried on by euphoric home crowds, Germany looks like a contender.
Germany got off to a fast start. Michael Ballack passed to Klose, who faked two defenders and cut inside but diving goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson made the save. The ball bounced back to Podolski, who shot the ball off the head of Lucic and into the net.
The second was even prettier.
Klose collected a pass just outside the box, drew three defenders and slipped a reverse pass into space for Podolski, who drove a left-foot shot past the goalkeeper.
Bernd Schneider had another chance in the 84th, sending a shot off the post after a deflection.
"Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin," the crowd began singing, referring to July 9 final in the German capital. The Germans didn't sit on their lead. Isaksson had to dive to his right to make a one-handed save on Ballack's shot from 20 meters (yards), then Klose headed high and Schneider shot wide. By then, the chants had become a bit less respectful. "You are only furniture suppliers," sang the crowd, no doubt with Ikea in mind.
Philipp Lahm broke through on the right in the 30th and fed Klose, who got off a shot to the near post that Isaksson had a lot of trouble turning away.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, back in Sweden's lineup after missing a game, had a promising run into Germany's box but the defense cleared. On the other side, Bastian Schweinsteiger fired from 20 meters (yards), the ball took a slight deflection and nearly beat Isaksson. Already outplayed, Sweden was left with 10 men when Brazilian referee Carlos Simon sent off Lucic.
Lucic, already booked earlier in the match, got into a tangle with Klose near the center and pulled his shirt. Although the German did some tugging himself, Lucic got his second caution. On a warm and humid afternoon, Germany appeared to shift down a gear and Ibrahimovic nearly scored in the 41st. He controlled a cross and shot on the turn low into left corner, but Jens Lehmann batted the ball away.
Lehmann had a blunder moments later when he dropped Larsson's cross and Mattias Jonson nearly tapped it in before Lahm raced back to clear.
Sweden earned the penalty when Ibrahimovic found Larsson with a pass to the middle. Larsson came down in contact with Christoph Metzelder, although the Swede had leaned into the German defender before.
Ballack nearly got his first goal of the tournament when he faked a defender and drove from 25 meters (yards) but Isaksson had a terrific save, just palming the ball onto the post. The German captain took shot after shot and was clearly frustrated at having failed to score.
Isaksson was responsible for some of the frustration, making several good saves, not only on Ballack, but stopping many point-blank shots by the swarming Germans.
At the final whistle, the capacity crowd of 66,000 rose to its feet to salute the German team, including the few thousands yellow Swedish shirts.
"Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin," came the chant again.