Germany 2 Japan 2: Klose and Schweinsteiger strike late to spare Klinsmann's blushes

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The Independent Online

Germany's World Cup stock is considerably lower today despite an unlikely recovery from 2-0 down in their penultimate warm-up game here in Leverkusen last night. Apparently destined for a resounding defeat that would not have flattered the excellent Japanese, they found salvation from late free-kicks.

Miroslav Klose halved the deficit by touching in an in-swinging 78th-minute cross by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who glanced in an equalising header almost immediately from Bernd Schneider's right-wing delivery.

Relief for Germany, though, should not mask their many shortcomings, mainly in a defence that was easily and often carved apart by the 2004 Asian Cup winners.

Despite the excellence of Hidetoshi Nakata in midfield, the main thorn in the hosts' side was Naohiro Takahara. The Hamburg striker delivered the goals Japan had long threatened, and showed why Germany's manager, Jürgen Klinsmann, is still experimenting with his suspect back four only nine days before the Group A opener against Costa Rica.

The deadlock was broken in the 57th minute. Atsushi Yanagisawa chipped a pass that Takahara took perfectly in his stride to shootpast Jens Lehmann.

The Arsenal goalkeeper did more than anyone to keep this game alive, saving from a clean-through Nakata and late on from Masashi Oguro. But he had no chance when Takahara turned Nowotny and Michael Ballack to drill home the second in the 65th minute.

Klinsmann admitted: "We had quite a few problems. We gave them too many chances and they could have been ahead at half-time. But this was the kind of test we wanted, and it's a compliment that we came back to draw."

GERMANY: Lehmann (Arsenal); Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen), Metzelder (Borussia Dortmund), Mertesacker (Hanover 96), Jansen (Borussia Mönchengladbach); Ballack (Chelsea), Frings, Borowski (both Werder Bremen), Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Klose (Werder Bremen), Podolski (FC Cologne). Substitutes used: Nowotny (Bayer Leverkusen) for Metzelder, 55; Odonkor (Borussia Dortmund) for Borowski, 60; Neuville (Borussia Mönchengladbach) for Podolski, 69.

JAPAN: Kawaguchi (Shizuoka); Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka), Santos, Tsuboi (both Urawa Reds), Nakazawa (Tokyo Verdy); Kaji (FC Tokyo), Fukunishi (Jubilo Iwata), Hidetoshi Nakata (Yamanushi), Nakamura (Celtic); Yanagisawa (Messina), Takahara (SV Hamburg). Substitutes used: Komano (Sanfrecce), for Kaji, 39; Oguro (Gamba Osaka) for Takahara, 81; Tamada (Kashiwa Reysol) for Yanigasawa, 82.

Referee: Kyros Vassaras (Greece).

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