Germany 3 Portugal 1: Schweinsteiger keeps the party in full swing

Hosts sweep past Portugal to sign off with a flourish and leave their supporters dancing
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The Independent Online

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored two superb goals as the hosts Germany finished the World Cup with the consolation of third place when they thumped Portugal 3-1 yesterday.

It proved to be a last hurrah for Oliver Kahn at international level. Brought in instead of Jens Lehmann to give him a game at the finals, he came within two minutes of keeping a clean sheet before being beaten by Nuno Gomes. He then announced his international retirement.

"It was a beautiful time but you have to know when it's all over," he said. "The atmosphere was overwhelming. You have to stop and think for a moment what it would have been like if we had won the World Cup."

As Germany's coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, said: "These are special moments, we told the players to soak them up."

Germany did not quite have enough to win the trophy, but in this match again showed the ability that Klinsmann has bonded together with remarkable team spirit. A real benefit was that Schwiensteiger finally produced the form expected of him, scoring with two thunderous long shots and setting up the other goal with an effort that deflected into the net off Portugal's Petit.

It was not such a happy farewell, though, for Luis Figo, the Portugal captain, who was surprisingly left on the bench by his coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, on his final international appearance, prompting rumours of a disagreement between the two. Simao Sabrosa took his place but Figo came on late in the game in place of Pauleta, and it was he who crossed for Nuno Gomes to score the consolation.

There were plenty of changes in the two teams, and Klinsmann, through his substitutions, ensured that every one of his outfield players had seen some action during the finals. Only Timo Hildebrand, the third-choice goalkeeper, did not play.

There were no goals before half-time but after 56 minutes Schweinsteiger broke the deadlock when the midfielder foxed Ricardo with a powerful shot from 35 yards out, which left the Portugal goalkeeper grasping at thin air.

Five minutes later, Germany went further ahead with Schweinsteiger the instigator this time, delivering a fierce free-kick from the left which Petit deflected into his own net. Schweinsteiger was not done yet, though, and he cracked in a third goal with another long-range strike that swerved away from Ricardo's despairing dive.

Figo made his belated appearance in the 77th minute and the Internazionale midfielder created Portugal's goal two minutes from the end, crossing perfectly from the right for a diving Nuno Gomes to head home past a stationary Kahn.

Christoph Metzelder, the Germany defender, summed up an exhilarating end to a fine tournament for the hosts, saying: "It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun to win 3-1. It's a good conclusion to a great World Cup. It was the fans who really lifted us the last two days. We didn't expect to get such a great welcome here in Stuttgart. They made us really hot for the match."

The question now for Germany is whether Klinsmann, the man who only weeks ago was still being widely criticised for his approach, will be hot to stay on for another challenge in the 2008 European Championship.