Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Germany comes alive to defeat US 4-1

AP , DORTMUND, GERMANY

Germany came alive in the second half and beat the US 4-1 on Wednesday for a morale-boosting victory less than three months before it kicks off the World Cup at home.

All four goals came after a sloppy, goalless first half that could inspire little confidence for Juergen Klinsmann's team, a three-time World Cup champion that was coming off a 4-1 loss in Italy three weeks ago.

Substitutes Bastian Schweinsteiger and Oliver Neuville scored in the 46th and 73rd respectively, with Miroslav Klose and captain Michael Ballack completing the victory with two more goals in the next six minutes.

Steve Cherundolo got the US goal in the 86th.

"We are not going to scream with joy now. We know that we can play better, that we have to be stable, not play two such different halftimes," said Klose, Bundesliga's leading scorer with 18 goals.

"We are of course pleased with the result," Ballack said. "But it was very tough at the start. The first goal broke the tension and we played well after that."

"The fans were expecting goals from the start and we didn't score. We wanted to prove ourselves after the first half," he said.

Germany needed a big victory to silence critics who blasted the team and the coach after the loss in Italy.

"I told my players at halftime that we have to put them really under pressure and we switched the formation in the second half because we were not getting enough space in the front," Klinsmann said. "In the second half it was fun to watch. We played with heart and soul."

"It was an important victory because now we'll be able to prepare in peace for the World Cup. Some of the criticism in the past few weeks was justified but some comments were below the belt," he said.

A near capacity crowd of 64,500 saw Brian Ching test Oliver Kahn after 10 minutes with a volley from the edge of the penalty area but the German goalkeeper held onto the ball.

Germany replied when Ballack released Klose on the right and he set up Lukas Podolski, but the striker shot wide from close range.

Ballack then narrowly missed with a header.

After weathering the early storm, the Americans got back into the match and Jimmy Conrad, left unmarked on the left, shot wide.

The Germans pressed forward but struggled to create dangerous chances against the well-organized US defense. After 30 minutes, the crowd started getting restless, directing whistles and jeers at Klinsman's team.

The halftime whistle brought a chorus of jeers, this time directed at both teams for a lackluster game.

Schweinsteiger replaced Podolski at the start of the second half, reducing Klinsmann's forward line to two strikers and reinforcing the midfield.

The move paid off immediately. Schweinsteiger took a free kick and sent a dipping ball. Striker Miroslav Klose tried to flick it past Kasey Keller but couldn't quite reach it. Keller was hindered enough, however, and the ball bounced past his stretched arms into the net.

Chris Klein replied with a free kick from 20 meters, but placed the ball right into Kahn's hands.

In the 66th, Kahn dived right and made a reaction save on the line to foil Johnson's header from close range.

After that, it was all Germany.

Neuville connected with a volley from the edge of the area to make it 2-0, then Klose chipped the ball over Keller in the 75th, before Ballack headed past the US goalkeeper in the 79th.

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