Hosts Germany to meet Italy in semi-finals

3rd July 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 July 2006, BERLIN - Hosts Germany dramatically squeezed through to the semi-finals of the World Cup Friday after defeating Argentina 4-2 on penalties, while Italy had a comfortable 3-0 win over Ukraine.

3 July 2006

BERLIN - Hosts Germany dramatically squeezed through to the semi-finals of the World Cup Friday after defeating Argentina 4-2 on penalties, while Italy had a comfortable 3-0 win over Ukraine.

The two will meet in the first semi-final in Dortmund on Tuesday. Portugal will take on France in Wednesday's second semi-final.

Germany have not beaten Italy in four previous World Cup encounters, while Italy have twice beaten the Germans, with two matches ending in draws.

Tuesday's semi-final will recall one of the all-time World Cup classics - the 1970 semi-final in Mexico when Italy defeated West Germany 4-3 after extra-time.

While Italy made their win over Ukraine look easy, Germany's win over Argentina was a hard-fought affair with scores locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes. The Germans converted their four ensuing penalties and Jens Lehmann saved from Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso.

I think that was expected of me," said Lehmann, who was chosen as Germany No.1 ahead of Oliver Kahn. "As Germany's goalkeeper, you are expected to win on a penalty shoot-out."

Kahn sportingly raced off the bench to hug Lehmann, while German chancellor Angela Merkel embraced Franz Beckenbauer, football legend and head of the World Cup Organizing Committee.

But there were ugly scenes near the centre circle as officials were forced to separate players from the two teams. Leandro Cufre, one of the Argentina substitutes, was shown a red card.

"We knew that in Argentina we were up against probably the best team at the moment in the World Cup, and one little mistake - say, a corner - and you'd be behind," said coach Juergen Klinsmann. "These are tense matches you've simply got to be able to cope with."

Argentina grabbed the lead in the 49th minute thanks to a Roberto Ayala header from a Juan Roman Riquelme corner. Germany equalised 10 minutes from time when tournament top scorer Miroslav Klose headed in his fifth goal of the finals.

Germany, long considered masters on penalty kicks, gave Leo Franco - a second half substitute for the injured Abbondanzieri - no chance with their four kicks. Oliver Neuville, Ballack, Podolski and Borowski all converted.

But while captain Juan Pablo Sorin and Maxi Rodriguez found the net for Argentina, Lehmann saved the second from Roberto Ayala, and a fourth from Esteban Cambiasso, to send the home fans wild.

"It was very painful for Argentina," said Argentine coach Jose Pekerman, who announced after the game that he was stepping down. "It was a great quarter-final played at a high level. I congratulate Germany for a great game and hope the team advances further."

Asked about Germany's chances of winning the World Cup, Klinsmann remained cautious: "I think our chances are now 25 per cent. We're one of four teams in the semi-final and we're facing another very tense match."

In Hamburg later, Italy comfortably defeated World Cup debutants Ukraine 3-0, with striker Luca Toni ending a four match goal-draught by netting two and declaring: "This is a night I am going to remember for a long time."

Italy coach Marcello Lippi, speaking also on behalf of his players, dedicated the victory to Gianluca Pessotto, the former Juventus player and Italy international who is in an intensive care unit in a Turin hospital after a suspected suicide attempt.

The Ukrainians may have been the first European team to qualify for Germany 2006, but they appeared intimidated by Italy's might. The Azzurri had a dream start six minutes into the game through Gianluca Zambrotta, and Toni went on to do the rest.

Friday's victory extended Italy's unbeaten streak in international matches to 23.


Subject: German news

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