Football: Spain frustrated by Klinsmann's coolness: World Cup

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Germany. .1

Spain. . .1

SPAIN, the understrength international under-achievers, prised an unexpected but deserved point from the habitually tight grip of the world champions here yesterday. Playing a brand of football that at times bordered on the magnificent, Javier Clemente's spirited side punished the ageing holders with an early goal from Juan Goicoechea but were unable to maintain such percussive pressure throughout, Germany's equaliser coming from the familiar figure of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Missing the suspended Miguel Angel Nadal, their commanding captain, and downhearted by an opening draw against South Korea, the Spanish appeared vulnerable prey to Berti Vogts's well-organised team, whose first-day victory had all but ensured their progression to the final 16. Clemente, though, instilling the sort of commitment that had served Spain so well during the qualifying victory in Dublin, said that he had always come to 'attack Germany. We wanted to win because we had only one point so far. That is why we were very aggressive.'

At times the full complement of points seemed a likely outcome as the aspirations of Vogts' Adidas Army were continually mocked. With Fernando Hierro and Abelardo curtailing Klinsmann's initial incursions, the Spanish were imbued with a confidence to break forward, mixing patience and fast build-ups to impressive effect.

Sergi was the first to lift Spanishspirits, his intricate dash in from the left touchline culminating in a rising shot well blocked by Bodo Illgner. German relief was brief as Spain, delightfully liberated from the palsying fears that so often reduce their impact on the world stage, constructed a goal of a gathering momentum and style.

The all-Barcelona affair was begun in the centre-circle when Josep Guardiola, a gifted midfielder of vision and balance, touched the ball out to his right where Albert Ferrer advanced with his customary vigour. The full-back, in turn, transferred possession to Goicoechea, whose lofted shot to the far post dipped over Illgner to give the exulant Spanish the lead. 'I'm not supposed to be a goalscorer,' the Man of the Match said, 'but now I've got two.'

Germany, behind but not dispirited, almost drew level through Andy Moller's diving header, and were then denied a solid-looking penalty appeal when Thomas Strunz was brought down in a thicket of players. That familiar German obduracy, a will to win matched by few counterparts, propelled Vogts's side back into an absorbing contest after the break when Klinsmann met Thomas Hassler's free-kick from the right with a downward header past the recalled Andoni Zubizarreta.

The same German combination almost gave the holders an undeserved lead but then, in a fluid game played in the best of tempers, Spain also enjoyed their share of chances. Hierro's low shot trickled along Illgner's goalline while a dance by Jose Luis Caminero through the German defensive deserved better than his frenetic, fruitless swipe at the ball with Illgner off balance.

The draw served both sides' purpose, leaving the Spanish well- placed to progress in the Germans' wake. 'Spain played an excellent game,' Klinsmann said. 'They made it very, very hard for us. They just stayed back and waited for our counter-attacks.'

GERMANY (1-4-4-1): Illgner (Cologne); Matthaus (Bayern Munich); Strunz (VfB Stuttgart), Kohler (Juventus), Berthold (VfB Stuttgart), Brehme (Kaiserslautern); Effenberg (Fiorentina), Sammer (Borussia Dortmund), Moller (Juventus), Hassler (Roma); Klinsmann (Monaco). Substitute: Voller (Marseille) for Moller, 61.

SPAIN (4-1-4-1): Zubizarreta (Barcelona); Ferrer (Barcelona), Hierro (Real Madrid), Abelardo (Sporting Gijon), Sergi (Barcelona); Alkorta (Real Madrid); Goicoechea (Barcelona), Guardiola (Barcelona), Caminero (Atletico Madrid), Luis Enrique (Real Madrid); Salinas (Deportivo La Coruna). Substitutes: Bakero (Barcelona) for Goicoechea, 64; Camarasa (Valencia) for Guardiola, 77.

Referee: E Filippi Cavani (Uruguay).