NUREMBERG, Germany, June 21 (Reuters) - Germany and Argentina drew 2-2 in their final Confederations Cup group match on Tuesday, putting Germany into the semi-finals as Group A winners and their opponents through as runners-up.
The outcome was a relative disappointment for the hosts, who
led twice and were set to end a 13-match, five-year run without
a victory against top-level opposition until Esteban Cambiasso
hit Argentina's second equaliser with 16 minutes remaining.
The two sides will now face opponents from Group B, where
Mexico are already qualified with six points and Brazil can join
them by avoiding defeat to Japan in Cologne on Wednesday.
Germany, whose last win against a top-ranked nation was
against England in October 2000, went ahead through Kevin
Kuranyi after 29 minutes, before man of the match Juan Roman
Riquelme equalised for Argentina with a blistering free-kick
four minutes later.
Gerald Asamoah restored Germany's lead with a well-taken
goal under pressure in the 51st minute before Cambiasso levelled
with a superb shot from outside the box that took a slight
Second bookings for German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger
and Argentine defender Walter Samuel mean both will be suspended
from their semi-finals at the weekend.
Germany topped the group on goal difference from Argentina
after both finished with seven points. Tunisia, who beat
Australia 2-0 in Leipzig, were third on three points and
Australia finished bottom with none.
Little could be read into Tuesday's result, the second time
the teams have drawn 2-2 in Germany this year after a friendly
ended with the same scoreline in Dusseldorf in February.
Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann changed his side from the
one that beat Tunisia 3-0 on Saturday, while Argentina's Jose
Pekerman also re-shuffled his pack for a game in which the hosts
made a better start and the South Americans a stronger finish.
Germany's opening goal came after Argentina failed to clear
a Thomas Hitzlsperger free-kick which the Germans were fortunate
to get. Although Samuel had bundled Kuranyi off the ball,
Kuranyi kept his balance and play continued.
However Slovak referee Lubos Michel booked Samuel, costing
him his place in the semi, and Argentina were doubly punished by
Hitzlsperger's free-kick slammed into the wall, and was then
played back in by Sebastian Deisler before eventually running
out to Fabian Ernst whose cross was forced home by Kuranyi.
Germany's elation was short-lived as four minutes later
Ernst tripped Javier Zanetti just outside the German penalty
area and Riquelme's curling right-footed effort flew past Tino
Asamoah, roundly booed by the crowd for a poor performance
against Tunisia at the weekend, justified Klinsmann's faith in
him with a well-taken goal after a perfect set-up by Kuranyi,
firing home from an acute angle under German Lux's outstretched
However Cambiasso's effort was the pick of the four, always
swerving away from Hildebrand to leave the teams deservedly
level at the end.