Germany crush Ecuador to top group
Germany recorded a third straight win to finish top of World Cup Group A with their Polish connection of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski gunning down a weakened Ecuador 3-0 on Tuesday.
Both teams had already qualified for the last 16 of the competition but Germany go into the second round with wind in their sails, and know this victory may have avoided a potential clash against old foes England in the knockout stage.
Klose said the Germans had underlined their intent.
“We absolutely want to be world champions and I think you saw our intentions today,” he said.
“That was a top performance. We were convincing right from the word go.
I am proud of the team.
I have great ambition and so has the team.”
Ecuador, who needed just a draw to top the group, had not conceded a goal at the finals but Polish-born Klose needed just four minutes to change that, drilling in after a smart cut-back from Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Shortly before the interval, Klose raced onto a chipped pass from captain Michael Ballack to bag his second goal and his fourth of the finals. He is now the tournament’s top scorer.
Podolski then struck his first World Cup goal on 57 minutes, sliding in a Bernd Schneider cross.
Hosts Germany will play their second-round match in Munich on June 24.
As it stands they will play Sweden, but if England lose to Swedes in Tuesday night’s match, then Germany will face their arch-rivals England.
Trinidad and Tobago also have an outside chance of facing Germany but must beat Paraguay convincingly and hope England help them by beating Sweden.
Ecuador will play in Stuttgart on June 25 against the group B winners—either England or Sweden.
Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann showed how seriously he was taking this match by making just one change, with Robert Huth drafted in for the injured Christoph Metzelder.
As expected skipper Ballack was in the starting line-up despite being a yellow card away from missing last 16 tie.
In contrast, Ecuador coach Luis Suarez made five changes, omitting captain Ivan Hurtado, who was carrying a caution, and star striker Agustin Delgado.
It showed as Ecuador looked disjointed and the bulk of the 72Â 000 fans at the Olympic Stadium were up celebrating after four minutes as Klose, who scored five goals at the 2002 World Cup, found the net.
The German Player of the Year then scored a second close to half-time to effectively end the match.
Podolski stretched Germany’s lead in the second half and it could have been much more.
The German fans at the Olympic Stadium chanted their coach’s name and cried “final, final” but there is a long way to go before the final on July 9.—AFP