Germany 1 Argentina 1 (Germany win 4-2 on penalties): Lehmann hero as Argentina pay the penalty

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The Independent Football

Maybe the Football Association should buy Steve McClaren a place in California so he can acquire some of the can-do positivity Jürgen Klinsmann absorbed, and which drove his German team into the World Cup semi-finals.

Whilst his counterpart, Jose Pekerman, betrayed his team's talent by asking them to sit on a 49th-minute lead gained by Roberto Ayala, Klinsmann rallied his troops and was rewarded when Miroslav Klose levelled to force extra time. This led to penalties and everyone knows the Germans always win them. They did so again, as Jens Lehmann saved two penalties, Esteban Cambiasso missing the crucial spot-kick.

The German victory sparked wild scenes on the pitch and a brawl involving players and representatives of both teams.

The opening exchanges were altogether more muted. An early Lukas Podolski tackle earned him a booking. This firm approach from referee Lubos Michel calmed tempers but the game lacked definition.

Argentina found themselves passing sideways rather than forwards. But in sitting deep to stifle Argentina's passing, Germany themselves played long and did not give their front men enough support.

All of which made for a disappointing opening half, especially after so much anticipation. A glistening opportunity arrived in the 15th minute when Arne Freidrich was given time to deliver a cross and picked out Michael Ballack, but he headed wide.

Meaningful goalmouth action was otherwise fleeting. A Podoloski free-kick caused Roberto Abbondanzieri to flap, Per Mertesacker shot over after a corner was half-cleared, and Carlos Tevez nutmegged Freidrich to release Juan Pablo Sorin but the captain's cross was blocked.

And that was pretty much it for 45 minutes. The second period began much like the first, with Michel stamping his authority on the players by booking Sorin. The storyline thereafter diverged dramatically as Argentina broke the deadlock in unexpected fashion. For the second successive match, they struck from a corner. As Riquelme, for once able to kick the ball unchallenged, swung it over, Ayala broke free of Klose and headed past Lehmann.

The goal immediately improved the game as Germany had to commit themselves forward, and Argentina invited them on and looked to counter-attack.

The cool weather made it easier for Germany to up the tempo, and Klinsmann further stoked up the mood by bringing on David Odonkor, the flyer who prompted their last-minute winner against Poland. There was almost an instant dividend as Germany forced a corner. Abbondanzieri went walkabout and Fabricio Coloccini headed the ball straight back to Ballack. With the ball bouncing awkwardly, Ballack shot into the ground, and against Ayala. But Abbondanzieri had been caught in the ribs by Klose's knee and, four minutes later, he left on a stretcher. His replacement, Leo Franco, had several years in La Liga behind him but only a handful of caps.

It was not Franco's nerve which was in question, though, but Pekerman's as he withdrew a clearly unhappy Riquelme and brought on not Lionel Messi, but the defensively minded Cambiasso. Argentina might still have sealed it but Maxi Rodriguez hit the side-netting.

Instead Argentina paid for their slow retreat. Ballack crossed from the left, Borowski flicked the ball on and Klose thundered in his fifth goal of the tournament.

The momentum remained with Germany during the first period of extra time but Argentina gradually pressed themselves. But while Colloccini worried Lehmann with a wayward cross that hit the bar, it came down to the 12-yardd lottery.

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