Croatia punished by Sammer

Germany 2 Croatia 1

Just as Franz Beckenbauer and Co received the opportunity at Leon to avenge their World Cup final defeat of four years earlier, so Germany's bruising victory over Croatia here yesterday has given England the chance to exorcise the six-year trauma of Turin in Wednesday's semi-final.

A less than formidable German display was redeemed only by the latterday Kaiser, Matthias Sammer, who crowned another imperious afternoon with a clinically taken winning goal. It arrived immediately after Croatia were depleted by the dismissal of Igor Stimac, whose second bookable offence squandered the initiative seized by Davor Suker's sublimely executed equaliser moments earlier.

Jurgen Klinsmann had put Germany ahead from the spot midway through the first half. However, the former Tottenham striker limped off with a torn calf muscle shortly before half-time and will almost certainly miss not only the meeting with England, but also the final should Berti Vogts' side go all the way.

They will certainly have to play better than this to do so. Had Suker not wasted two free headers late on, they might even have been flying home today. Sammer apart, Germany do not look as strong as the team of 1994, who went out of the World Cup to Bulgaria at the quarter-final stage.

Without Klinsmann, moreover, their attacking options would be strictly limited. His co-striker, Fredi Bobic, was also substituted and taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. Vogts insisted that neither would be fit to play at Wembley, although his captain had not given up hope.

"I've no experience of this type of injury," Klinsmann said. "In all my career, it's the first ruptured calf muscle I've ever had. Conventional wisdom has it that it takes 10 days to heal, but maybe the doctors will find ways of handling it."

The tone of the contest was set in the opening 20 minutes, when Sammer, Klinsmann and Stimac were all shown the yellow card. Thereafter, mysteriously, the referee cautioned only Stimac. Yet there were several flagrant transgressions: the kick into the arm of a prostrate Christian Ziege by Slaven Bilic, for one; Mladen Mladenovic's bundling of the same German into the advertising boards, ice hockey style, for another; and a blatant body-check by Thomas Helmer which denied Suker a shooting chance but went completely unpunished.

Rising serenely above the viciousness and vendettas was Sammer. After a slightly hesitant start, during which Goran Vlaovic fired feebly wide from a typically penetrative pass by the Derby-bound Aljosa Asanovic, the libero demonstrated that he is as dangerous when performing the attacking half of the role as he is vice-like in the tackle.

Almost inevitably, it was his run in pursuit of Mehmet Scholl's pass into the Croat penalty area that earned Germany the lead. Nikola Jerkan was sufficiently panicked to handle when the goal was under immediate threat. Klinsmann converted the penalty to break the quarter-finals' scoring duck after 261 minutes play.

Croatia drew level after Nikola Jurcevic caught Steffen Freund napping in possession. Suker alighted on the ball and, after coaxing it round the diving Andreas Kopke with the sole of his left foot, side-footed home with the right. It was the first goal the Germans had conceded in the tournament.

Unfortunately for the underdogs, Stimac soon revealed the more brutal half of the Croat footballing dichotomy. The Derby defender's reckless late tackle from behind on Scholl gave Germany impetus where inertia was threatening to take hold. Within two minutes, Markus Babbel barged over Jerkan before crossing. Sammer rose with Bilic, and when the ball broke loose pounced to hook in his second goal of the finals.

Klinsmann may have said auf weidersehen, but Sammer's indomitable spirit should be a nagging doubt in the mind of anyone carried away on a tabloid tide of jibes about sauerkraut and lederhosen over the coming days.

Goals: Klinsmann (pen 21) 0-1; Suker (51) 1-1; Sammer (59) 1-2.

Croatia (3-5-2): Ladic (Croata Zagreb); Bilic (West Ham), Jerkan (Real Oviedo), Stimac (Derby); Stanic (Club Bruges), Jurcevic (Freiburg), Boban (Milan), Asanovic (Derby), Jarni (Real Betis); Vlaovic (Padova), Suker (Real Madrid). Substitute: Mladenovic (Gamba Osaka) for Jurcevic, 78.

Germany (1-2-5-2): Kopke (Eintracht Frankfurt); Sammer (Borussia Dortmund); Babbel (Bayern Munich), Helmer (Bayern Munich); Reuter (Borussia Dortmund), Moller (Borussia Dortmund), Eilts (Werder Bremen), Scholl (Bayern Munich), Ziege (Bayern Munich); Klinsmann (Bayern Munich), Bobic (VfB Stuttgart). Substitutes: Freund (Borussia Dortmund) for Klinsmann, 39; Kuntz (Besiktas) for Bobic, h-t; Hassler (Karlsruhe) for Scholl, 88.

Referee: L Sundell (Sweden).

Bookings: Croatia: Stimac. Germany: Sammer, Klinsmann. Sending-off: Croatia: Stimac.

Man of the match: Sammer Attendance: 43,412

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future