Johannesburg: Germany maintained their proud
record of having never failed to qualify from the group stages
at a World Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over Ghana and booked a
round of 16 berth as Group D winners here on Wednesday.
Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Oezil scored the
matchwinner in the 60th minute in a fast and furious match at
Soccer City Stadium to give Germany their second win and six
points to top the group.
Despite the loss, Ghana also made it to the round of 16
on goal difference though they have the same points ? four --
with Australia who beat Serbia 2-1 in Nelspruit in another
Group D match. Ghana have a goal difference of zero as against
minus three of Australia.
It was a sweet revival of fortunes for Joachim Loew`s
side after their shock 0-1 defeat against Serbia in their last
match which also saw the ejection of star striker Miroslav
Klose on his second booking.
Germany now play England ? Group C runners-up ? in the
round of 16 in Bloemfontein on June 27 while Ghana take on
United States of America the earlier day in Rustenburg.
The match was also registered another first in World Cup
history with two half-brothers facing each other for the first
time. Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana faced his brother Jerome
in the Germany side. Kevin was roundly booed by German fans as
his tackle in the FA Cup final match between Portsmouth and
Chelsea led to Germany captain Michael Ballack`s ruling out of
the World Cup.
The first 45 minutes was played at a frantic pace with
both sides having shots galore at the goal though Germany had
more ball possession and scoring chances.
The first chance came in Ghana`s way in the 20th minute
when Kwadwo Asamoah broke down the left of the German box and
cut back to striker Asamoah Gyan whose misdirected shot was
blocked by a defender.
In the 25th minute, Andre Ayew found himself unmarked
inside the German box but the young midfielder was one touch
too many and it was cleared by a defender.
Next minute, Germany got the first clear chance of the
match as Mesut Oezil was onside down the right side off a fine
pass from his captain Philip Lahm but he shot straight to the
Ghana keeper Richard Kingson. Immediately, Asamoah Gyan`s
header off a corner was cleared by Lahm at the goal-line.
At the half-hour mark, striker Cacau, who came in for
Miroslav Klose, got a free shot off a pass from Sami Khedira
but was off the target.
In the 41st minute, Bastian Schweinsteiger`s free-kick
slipped through the Ghana defence and looked like heading
towards the goal but keeper Kingson was able to get down in
time to push it off to safety.
Six minutes into the second session, midfielder Anthony
Annan shot straight to the onrushing German keeper Manuel
Neuer when he was clear inside the box.
Oezil struck at the hour mark with his powerful and
dipping left footer from the top centre of the box crashing
into the net with the keeper nowhere able to reach the ball.
Immedaitely after, Ghana could have equalised and Kevin
Prince Boateng had a clear header near the right post but
headed out for a corner under pressure from a defender.
Five minutes later, German captain Lahm could lay his
foot on the path of Ayew`s shot from inside the box to deflect
it for a corner.