Germany and Brazil reach World Cup finals

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The Independent Online

Brazil and Germany, soccer's two most successful teams with seven World Cup titles between them, both survived qualifying scares and advanced to the 2002 World Cup finals.

Brazil and Germany, football's two most successful teams with seven World Cup titles between them, both survived qualifying scares and advanced to the 2002 World Cup finals.

Germany, a three­time champion that has never missed out on the World Cup finals, smashed Ukraine 4­1 Wednesday to advance on a 5­2 aggregate.

Brazil, a four­time winner and the only country to play in every World Cup, beat Venezuela 3­0.

Tiny Slovenia clinched it first­ever berth with a 1­1 draw at Romania, and Turkey will appear for the first time since 1954 after a 5­0 victory over Austria.

Belgium grabbed the fourth spot up for grabs from Euro playoffs on Wednesday, defeating the Czech Republic 1­0 in Prague to advance 2­0 on aggregate. Belgium will be playing in its sixth straight final. The Czechs were trying to reach their first since 1990 when Czechoslovakia played in the finals in Italy.

Uruguay, a two­time World Cup winner, clinched fifth place in the 10­team South American group and will play Oceania champion Australia in a two­leg playoff on Nov. 20 and 25.

Germany, after a 1­1 draw over the weekend in Ukraine, scored three goals in the first 15 minutes – Michael Ballack, Oliver Neuville and Marko Rehmer – to deny Ukraine its first berth in soccer's No. 1 championship. Ballack scored again in the second half. Ukraine and AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko scored late to save some face.

"We were under great pressure," Ballack said. "Failing to qualify would have been a huge disappointment for the entire nation."

In Sao Luis, Brazil, Luizao scored a pair of goals and Rivaldo added one to help Brazil keep its perfect record intact as the only country to have qualified for every Cup since the first in 1930 – despite its worst qualifying campaign ever.

Brazil lost six qualifying matches in this campaign.

"We know we have to improve a lot," said team captain Emerson, of AS Roma. "But we didn't have time. Now we will."

Slovenia, with the deciding goal from Mladen Rudonja in the 57th minute, drew 1­1 against Romania on a rainy night in Bucharest to advance on a 3­2 aggregate. Slovenia won the first leg of the playoff on Saturday at home 2­1.

A country of only two million, Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991 and reached its first major international tournament when it qualified for the 2000 European Championship. Romania last missed the World Cup finals in 1986.

Turkey, which reached its only World Cup final in 1954, smashed Austria 5­0 in Istanbul after winning the first leg in Austria 1­0. Turkey got first­half goals from Yildiray Basturk, Hakan Sukur and Okan Buruk, and two others later from Arif Erdem. Austria had reached two of the last three finals, last missing out in 1994.

Belgium, which last missed the World Cup finals in 1978, used Marc Wilmots penalty to clinch the victory as its traditionally stingy defense stymied the Czechs.

"This is incredible for everybody," said Gert Verheyen, who scored in the first leg. "We showed great concentration during the tough opening spell. It was really tough for 20 minutes but we fought through it.

"We have fought our way out of a great many tough spots but this beats it. We proved we deserve to go to the World Cup. We proved we are strong."

In other South American games Wednesday, Uruguay and Argentina drew 1­1, Colombia trounced Paraguay 4­0, Chile played to a scoreless draw with Ecuador and Peru drew 1­1 with Bolivia.

On Thursday, Ireland took a 2­0 lead to Iran with a crowd of 110,000 expected in Tehran with the survivor going through to Japan and South Korea.

Fourteen teams from Europe have now reached the 32­team finals: defending champion France, Russia, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Croatia, Italy, England, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and Slovenia.

African qualifiers include: Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and South Africa. Asian qualifiers are: Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.

Three Central and North American sides are through: Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States. Three other South American teams have advanced: Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador.

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