Frankenstadion, Nürnberg, 21.06.2005
Kurányi 29., Asamoah 51. / Riquelme 33., Cambiasso 74.
With both teams having qualified for the semi-finals having beaten Australia and Tunisia, this game was all about who would finish where in the group table. With a slightly better goal difference, Germany only needed a draw to finish top of the group. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann stuck with his policy of rotating his goalkeepers, bringing Timo Hildebrand in for Jens Lehmann, and both Lukas Podolski and Michael Ballack were rested.
Germany started off at a fast pace, and could have opened the scoring within five minutes when a sharp pass out to the right from Andreas Hinkel found Sebastian Deisler, whose cross was met first time but sent over the bar by Kevin Kurányi who was back in the starting line-up.
It was Kurányi who eventually opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, stabbing the ball into the roof of the net from close range after Fabian Ernst’s cross had somehoe managed to evade the Argentian defence. The Argentinians hit back almost immediately however, with Juan Román Riquelme curling in a superb free-kick after Javier Zanetti had been felled by Fabian Ernst on the edge of the area. It was a great shot, but Hildebrand should have done better in the German goal. Half-time: 1-1.
The second half started much like the first, with Germany pressing hard – perhaps too hard as Bastian Schweinsteiger saw yellow and with it a ban from the semi-final as he charged in on Carlos Tevez. The tactic of putting pressure on the Argentinians in midfield quickly paid off however: when an opposition move in midfield broke down substitute Torsten Frings broke infield from the left, threading a neat ball through for Kurányi whose perfectly timed and weighted first-time ball broke the Argentinian offside trap to find Gerald Asamoah in space. The Schalke man had plenty of time to drill the ball low to Germán Lux’s right, putting the Mannschaft back in front.
Having to chase the game Argentina upped the pace, and soon started to boss the midfield as Germany found it increasingly difficult to retain possession with the ball seeming spend most of the time in the German half. With fifteen minutes to go Esteban Cambiasso found space on the edge of the area, and his shot took a slight but nasty deflection off Sebastian Deisler to make its way past the diving Hilbebrand.
Only one team was in it in the closing stages, but for all their possession and attacking intent the Albiceleste couldn’t fashion any further chances as the final whistle blew at 2-2. It yet been yet another exciting game, and Germany had done enough to finish top of the group for a semi-final tie against a Brazilian side who had surprisingly been nudged into second place in the other group by surprise package Mexico.
Germany: Hildebrand – Hinkel, Mertesacker, Huth, Hitzlsperger – Deisler, Ernst, Schneider (c) (46. Frings), Schweinsteiger (70. Engelhardt) – Kurányi, Asamoah (58. Hanke)
Argentina: Lux – Zanetti, Coloccini, Samuel (62. Santana), Heinze – Bernardi (53. Aimar), Cambiasso, Riquelme, Sorín – Tévez (80. Delgado), Figueroa
Referee: Ľuboš Micheľ (Slovakia)
Assistants: Roman Slysko (Slovakia), Martin Balko (Slovakia)
Fourth Official: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)
Yellow Cards: Kurányi, Deisler, Schweinsteiger, Engelhardt / Samuel, Bernardi
Red Cards: – / –
First Phase Group A Table
Other results: Argentina 2-1 Tunisia; Australia 2-4 Argentina; Australia 0-2 Tunisia.