RheinEnergieStadion, Köln, 18.06.2005
Ballack pen 74., Schweinsteiger 80., Hanke 88. / –
Germany’s second first phase game against Tunisia provided a more satisfactory – though arguably flattering – result than the first, but a performance that lacked the sparkle of the encounter against the Socceroos. Things weren’t helped by the fact that the North Africans – beaten in their first game by Argentina – adopted a highly defensive approach.
Germany almost got the perfect start when Gerald Asamoah was put through by Lukas Podolski within three minutes, but a bad poor touch allowed the Tunisian keeper Ali Boumnijel to get to the ball first. Arne Friedrich should have done better to beat Boumnijel having found plenty of space after being put through by Torsten Frings on the twenty-minute mark, and five minutes later Tunisians almost took a shock lead when a corner that had curled straight towards the goal was somehow kept out by Jens Lehmann. Michael Ballack then saw a header cleared off the line, and Tunisia were lucky not to concede a penalty when the referee failed to see Mertesacker having his shirt tugged in the area.
With five minutes left in the half Lukas Podolski did have the ball in the back of the net, but was unlucky to be called offside with what was at best a marginal decision – and at half time the teams went in goalless.
The second half got off to a quiet start, the most significant moment coming when Jens Lehmann was confronted by… A rather enthusiastic supporter. Thankfully the pitch invader’s plan just involved giving Lehmann a hug, and having been given this and a friendly tap on the back of the head by the ‘keeper was quietly escorted off the pitch.
Germany started to up the ante on the hour mark, pressing deeper in search of the opening goal. When Asamoah was fouled just outside the area Ballack teed up the free-kick, sending it just wide to the right. Asamoah was again guilty of fluffing an excellent opportunity when he picked up a neat pass from Podolski; with the return pass looking the most productive option, the Schalke man decided to shoot at goal, sending his effort well wide of the target.
With just over a quarter of an hour to go the breakthrough finally came. After picking up a short pass from substitute Kevin Kurányi – on for the disappointing Asamoah, Lukas Podolski found Michael Ballack to his left. As the German skipper shaped to shoot defender Wissem Adbi hung out a leg – it was clearly a penalty, but Ballack’s Schwalbe left little to the imagination. The opportunity to open the scoring was duly taken, as Ballack dusted himself down to get up and blast the Elfmeter home past Boumnijel.
The floodgates then opened. It was that man Podolski again in the thick of things, as he picked up a ball in midfield from Arne Friedrich and threaded a sublime pass through the Tunisan defence where it was picked up by Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Bayern man still had plenty of work to do, rounding the ‘keeper before steering the ball home from an acute angle. The icing on the cake was provided by substitute Mike Hanke, who slotted in his first – and so far only – international goal after his initial header had been well parried by the unfortunate Boumnijel. He had been on the field for less than two minutes.
Germany: Lehmann – Friedrich, Mertesacker, Huth, Hitzlsperger (68. Schneider) – Deisler, Frings, Schweinsteiger – Ballack (c) – Asamoah (62. Kurányi), Podolski (87. Hanke)
Tunisia: Boumnijel – Trabelsi, Jaïdi, Abdi, José Clayton – Mnari, Nafti, Chadli – Ghodhbane (59. Namouchi) – Francileudo Santos, Jaziri (83. Ben Saada)
Referee: Peter Prendergast (Jamaica)
Assistants: Anthony Garwood (Jamaica), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad & Tobago)
Fourth Official: Matthew Breeze (Australia)
Yellow Cards: Friedrich / Jaidi, Abdi
Red Cards: – / –