Sunday, July 8, 2012

8 July 2006 - Germany Ends On A High Note (But Not The Highest Note)

On 8 July 2006, hosts Germany ended the World Cup with a win. But it was in the third-place match.

The three-time champions entered the tournament as favorites, having finished as runners-up in 2002. And they lived up to that tag as one of only four teams to win all three of their first-round matches (with Portugal, Brazil, and Spain), followed by a 2-0 win over Sweden in the Round of 16 that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested. They advanced over Argentina on penalties in the quarterfinals, but then suffered a shocking loss to Italy in extra time to drop down to the third-place game (Italy beat them 2-0 with goals in the 119th and 120th minutes).

There, they faced Portugal, who had similarly needed penalties to get out of the quarterfinals over England, then fell to France 1-0 in the semis.

Playing before a crowd of 52,000 in Stuttgart, the two teams remained scoreless through the first half due in part to outstanding play from goalkeepers Ricardo and Oliver Kahn. It was the first appearance in the tournament for Kahn, who had been dropped as started in favor of Jens Lehmann, but got the nod over Lehmann for the third-place match, He also took over as captain in place of the injured Michael Ballack.

The Germans quickly took charge in the second half, with a brace from midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured) (56', 78') sandwiched around an own goal from Portugal substitute midfielder Petit (60'). Portugal pulled one back with a goal from Nuno Gomes in the 88th minute and the day ended as a 3-1 win for Germany.

The match was Kahn's last international appearance, with his total of 86 caps putting him in a tie for fifteenth on Germany's all-time appearances table.

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