Neuville saves German pride with late goal
15 June 2006, BERLIN - Oliver Neuville struck late against Poland to keep Germany on a winning course, while Spain entered the fray with a 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine in Wednesday's World Cup action. That highest score of the tournament so far shot the Spaniards atop Group H where, in the last of the opening matches, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia parted 2-2 in an affair that began as a damp squib and ended as a firecracker - but ultimately benefited only Ukraine. Germany's win came a full ten years after their last
15 June 2006
BERLIN - Oliver Neuville struck late against Poland to keep Germany on a winning course, while Spain entered the fray with a 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine in Wednesday's World Cup action.
That highest score of the tournament so far shot the Spaniards atop Group H where, in the last of the opening matches, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia parted 2-2 in an affair that began as a damp squib and ended as a firecracker - but ultimately benefited only Ukraine.
Germany's win came a full ten years after their last victory against European opposition at a football championship.
Substitute Neuville scored in injury time to spare German blushes against a 10-man side and give his team their first victory against European opposition since beating the Czech Republic in the final of the European Championship in 1996.
The country erupted. In Berlin, the "fan mile" - where fans had to be turned away before the start of the match as there were already 250,000 people crammed into the area - exploded in a sea of German flags when Neuville found the back of the net.
Neuville said his side had kept believing that they could still turn the match around. "The goal was more than deserved. Now we intend beating Ecuador and finishing top of the group," he said.
Germany dominated throughout the game but were denied until the 91st minute by goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who pulled off a number of spectacular saves.
The Poles, who were stunned 2-0 in their opening game by Ecuador, were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute when Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo sent off Radoslaw Sobolewski for a second bookable offence.
Poland coach Pawel Janas admitted his team was effectively eliminated. "We hoped we could keep the draw to the end, but one mistake determined that we are eliminated from the tournament," he said.
The victory sees Germany top the group on six points from Ecuador who have three. Poland and Costa Rica, who take on Ecuador on Thursday, are still without a point.
Spain's four-goal fiesta saw Liverpool's Xabi Alonso put Luis Aragones' side in front, David Villa grabbed two and Fernando Torres completed the rout.
Two-goal hero Villa said: "We played very well. It was the perfect debut and now we just hope to continue playing the same way."
Blohkin had surprisingly picked new Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko to start despite fitness concerns, but starved of quality service he did little to trouble the Spanish defence.
Two minutes after the break Vladislav Vashchuk tugged at Fernando Torres' shorts and saw the tournament's first straight red card, with Villa converting the accompanying spot kick.
For Spain in a season that it produced the winners of both the Champions League (Barcelona) and the UEFA Cup (Sevilla), it was the best start to a World Cup in their 12 appearances.
It was the worst, however, for the Saudis and Tunisia, as each was itching to grab maximum points in the face of later matches against Spain and Ukraine. Their point point apiece left Ukraine with hope.
For eight minutes it looked like Saudi striker Sami al-Jaber had hit what would have been a fairytale 2-1 winner against Tunisia in a thrilling close.
Hardly had the veteran striker come on for his fourth World Cup campaign and 161st cap, and he hit the 84th-minute goal - only to see Tunisia's Rahdi Jaidi grab an injury time equaliser.
Zied Jaziri had hit the 23rd-minute first half lead for Tunisia, and Yaser al-Qahtani equalised for the Saudis in the 57th minute of a match that truly came alight in the closing phase.
"We won a point" said Tunisia's French coach Roger Lemerre. "We lost two points," was the more accurate verdict of the Saudis' Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta after the Arab duel.
Jaziri's first half strike was the only real high point of the first half. He right-footed a beautiful volley off a rebounded free kick which seemed to slap into the back of Mabriuk Ziad's net before the Saudi keeper realised what had happened.
The first Saudi goal came in a beautiful, flowing move 12 minutes into the second half when al-Qahtani connected first time to slash home a cross from Mohammed Noor after a blistering run on the right.
It was a wonderful, flowing move that had the Saudis dancing with delight and also getting to their knees in the direction of Mecca in thanks for a goal at last after the drought of the 2002 tournament, in which they conceded 12 goals.
Al-Jaber again sent the Saudis into raptures and kneeling towards Mecca barely two minutes after coming on as a late substitute. The veteran striker made it look so easy - controlling the ball after straying out to the left, then calmly left-footing past the onrushing Ali Boumnijel for his third goal in four World Cup campaigns.
It was all the more bitter for the Saudis - and a real group lifeline for Tunisia - when Rahdi Jaidi grabbed an injury time equaliser, getting his head to Ziad Jaziri's cross for the 2-2.
Subject: German news, World Cup