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Klinsmann's US advance to second round despite Germany defeat

Thomas Müller’s brilliant second-half goal meant Joachim Löw got one over on his former master.

Image: EMPICS Sport

United States 0

Germany 1

Mikey Stafford reports from Arena Pernambuco, Recife.

IN THE end, there was no disgrace and no need for a pre-match pact. The better team won but both advanced to the second round, thanks to Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana.

At full-time the handshakes were fulsome between United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his former assistant Joachim Löw. As the erstwhile Germany manager walked around the centre circle embracing his former players, the biggest cheer of the day erupted from the American fans, with confirmation that Cristiano Ronaldo’s first and last goal of the World Cup had secured their team’s progress as runners-up in Group G.

They will most likely face Belgium in Salvador and Klinsmann has much work to do if his side are to make it to the quarter-finals. They were comprehensively outplayed here by a Germany side who eased off the throttle after Thomas Müller’s brilliant 55th minute goal.

Germany returned after the break keen to atone for a host of missed chances in the first half and Muller very nearly found substitute Miroslav Klose at the back post but the cross was too high for the veteran striker, whose search for a record 16th World up goal will continue in Porto Alegre on Monday — most likely against Algeria, who play Russia later today.

Minutes later Müller scored his ninth World Cup finals goal in as many matches, connecting beautifully with a bouncing ball on the edge of the area after Tim Howard had saved well from Per Mertesacker.

The Bayern Munich attacker curled a right-foot shot brilliantly around the Everton goalkeeper, who could not regain his position in time.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Group G - USA v Germany - Arena Pernambuco Germany celebrate Müller's latest World Cup goal. Source: EMPICS Sport

By now the United States were second best all over the pitch and, with substitute Mario Gotze joining Toni Kroos and the much-improved Philipp Lahm in the middle of the park, the Americans were chasing — and kicking — shadows.

Kyle Beckerman was booked for an agricultural hack on Sebastian Schweinsteiger and but for some lenient refereeing from Ravshan Irmatov, Klinsmann might not have had a full compliment to select from on Tuesday.

The 41,876 in attendance did very well to make it to this out-of-town stadium after more than 24 hours of constant and heavy rain turned many of Recife’s streets into impassable rivers. The American fans finally got the second half shot their intrepid journeys warranted in the third minute of added time.

Substitute Alejandro Bedoya looked like equalising until the last gasp, sliding intervention of Lahm blocked his left foot shot. Then Clint Dempsey headed over from five yards as the game came to a close.

A draw would have been a miracle, or the result of a pre-arranged pact. The talk of a repeat of the “Disgrace of Gijon” was wide of the mark as two teams played out a fairly contested, if one-sided, match, which only served to further Germany’s reputation as serious contenders.

Löw’s team included only two players not contracted to either Bayern Munich or Arsenal — Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Schalke’s Benedikt Höwedes as he introduced Gunners attacker Lukas Podolski for Mario Götze and swapped out Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira for Schweinsteiger to win his 104th cap.

Brazil W Cup US Soccer The thousands of US fans watching on from Detroit. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Bayern institution had a steadying influence when brought on in the second half against Ghana and linked well with Lahm against United States’ solid five-man block in the middle.

Klinsmann made two changes to the team that was unlucky to concede a 95th-minute equaliser to Portugal in their second game. In came Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis for Alejandro Bedoya, while Stoke City centre-half Geoff Cameron was dropped in favour of Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy team-mate Omar Gonzalez.

Despite claiming they would turn this match into a battle, the United States began as if they were waving a flag as white as their jerseys. Three times in the opening stages Jerome Boateng was given the freedom of the right wing to whip in dangerous crosses.

The first resulted in an optimistic Muller overhead effort but the next two had to swiped clear by Gonzalez and Matt Besler, with Gonzalez’s panicked effort almost ending up in his own goal.

The United States six-yard box was under siege and Howard had to save smartly from a Kroos cross-shot and then, from a corner, Germany’s centre-halfs Per Mertesacker and Hummels conspired to get in each other’s way with the goal gaping. In their defence the two were desperate to get involved after a quarter of an hour spectating.

The German defenders would be busy soon enough. First DaMarcus Beasley, the full-back who seemed more intent on attacking than defending the United States’ left flank, managed a tame 20-yard effort that trailed wide, before the Americans’ conjured the best moment of the first half.

A swift counter attack saw the ball worked wide to Graham Zusi on the left flank and the Sporting Kansas City player cut inside and struck a beautiful curling effort just over Manuel Neuer’s crossbar.

Brazil Soccer WCup US Germany Clint Dempsey went close for the States. Source: Hassan Ammar

The chance seemed to spur on Klinsmann’s team, who might have tested Neuer if Jermaine Jones had not run straight into the referee as he kept his eyes on a pass from Michael Bradley.

Besiktas battler Jones and Beckerman were throwing themselves about in midfield but the Bayern axis of Schweinsteiger and Lahm were still creating chances for Germany — first Kroos shot over from distance and then Ozil shot quickly from eight yards only for Howard to make another fine save at close quarters.

United States (4-3-2-1): Tim Howard; Fabian Johnson, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Demarcus Beasley; Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Brad Davis (Alejandro Bedoya 59), Graham Zusi (DeAndre Yedlin 83); Clint Dempsey.

Booked: Gonzalez 38′, Beckerman 62′

Germany (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Per Mertesacker, Benedikt Howedes; Philipp Lahm, Sebastian Schweinsteiger (Gotze 76); Mesut Ozil (Andre Schurlle 89), Toni Kroos, Lukas Podolski (Miroslav Klose ht); Thomas Muller

Booked: Howedes 11′

Referee: Ravshav Irmatov (Uzbekistan)

Attendance: 41,876

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Mikey Stafford

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