COLOGNE, Germany, June 18 (Reuters) - Germany scored three times in the last 16 minutes to secure a flattering 3-0 win over Tunisia in a lively Confederations Cup match on Saturday.
The Group A victory should ease the pressure on coach
Juergen Klinsmann and his young defence, heavily criticised
recently after conceding a flurry of goals.
But Germany's overall performance was flawed and Tunisia
were unlucky to lose a close match by a three-goal margin.
With the game seemingly heading for a goalless draw, Germany
skipper Michael Ballack broke the deadlock with a 74th minute
penalty after he was tripped by defender Wissem Abdi in the box.
Six minutes later Bastian Schweinsteiger made it 2-0 when he
rounded goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel and squeezed the ball home just
inside the far post.
Mike Hanke, who had only been on the field for one minute
after replacing Cologne's Lucas Podolski in the 87th, made an
immediate impact by scoring a superb goal to make it 3-0 with
two minutes to play.
He rose to meet a perfect cross from Sebastian Deisler, saw
his powerful header superbly saved by Boumnijel, then reacted
first to force home the rebound and score his first goal for
Germany on only his second appearance.
Tunisia, though, looked the more cohesive team and with
better finishing could have been ahead themselves by the time
But Ballack said: 'It was very warm out there and hard to
keep up the tempo and the pressure. But we can be pleased with
3-0. I am happy with that.'
The win was Germany's second in the tournament after their
opening 4-3 victory against Australia and extended their record
of not losing in Cologne to 18 matches since 1935.
It also means they are almost assured of a semi-final place
depending on the result of Saturday's later match between
Argentina and Australia in Nuremberg.
The African champions went closest to breaking the deadlock
in the first half, with Clayton almost scoring direct from a
corner after 26 minutes.
His fiercely-struck left-footed inswinger appeared to be
going straight into the net after flying over the head of Thomas
Hitzlsperger at the near post.
However, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann somehow managed to get an
arm to the ball and kept it out, although he ended up tangled in
the back of the netting.
Six minutes later Clayton was in action at the other end,
heading a goal-bound Ballack header off the line with Boumnijel
Germany thought they had broken through after 41 minutes
when Podolski beat Boumnijel from close range, but he had
drifted marginally offside and the goal did not count.
Jamaican referee Peter Prendergast frequently broke up the
flow of the game with some pedantic decisions.
He also booked Tunisia's Raidi Jaidi after five minutes and
Germany's Arne Friedrich after 22 minutes, which means the two
players will miss their country's next matches after being
booked in their first match.
Both teams had chances to score in the second half with Adel
Chedli guilty of wasting Tunisia's best chance, shooting weakly
at Lehmann after 56 minutes.
Gerald Asamoah had a nightmare up front for Germany, who
began to play better in attack after he was replaced by Kevin
Kuranyi with an hour gone.
But too many of the German players seemed out of sorts with
some poor passing and understanding and, despite the win,
Klinsmann still has plenty of work to do to hone his side into
one capable of winning the final in 11 days' time.