World Cup post-game: Germany 3, Uruguay 2
Germany defeated Uruguay 3-2 in a highly entertaining third-place FIFA World Cup match Saturday in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
It's the game that no semifinalist wants to play in.
Just a few days removed from heartbreaking losses, Germany and Uruguay had to pick themselves up to battle for third place.
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And while both squads would rather have been playing for the World Cup trophy on Sunday, they still put on quite a show for the rain-soaked crowd at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
This game had all the elements of a classic — goals galore, end-to-end action and nearly a dramatic ending.
Both goalkeepers — Joerg Butt of Germany and Fernando Muslera of Uruguay — were busy throughout the game, whether making saves or plucking the ball out of their net.
Sami Khedira's goal, a header in the 82nd minute, gave Germany a 3-2 victory and bragging rights of third place for a second straight World Cup. The Germans did have to survive a final-second free kick by Uruguayan star striker Diego Forlan that ricocheted off the crossbar.
Germany put forward a united effort in their final game of the tournament despite making five changes to its starting 11, due to injuries and a nasty flu bug.
Striker Miroslav Klose, who needed two goals to surpass Ronaldo's World Cup goal record of 15, did not play Saturday due to an aching back, while captain Philip Lahm and starting midfielder Lukas Podolski were both felled by the flu.
Luis Suarez returned to La Celeste's lineup after sitting out the semifinal loss to the Netherlands for his controversial goal-line red card against Ghana in the quarter-finals. Suarez was booed lustily every time he touched the ball Saturday as many African football fans blame him for the ousting of the continent's final World Cup hope.
What this result means
Germany gets the consolation prize of finishing third in the 32-team tournament for the fourth time. The three-time champions have finished in the top three 11 times.
Uruguay finishes its stellar run at the World Cup as the top South American team, ahead of pre-tournament favourites Brazil and Argentina. Not too shabby for the 16th-ranked team in the world.
The winning goal
Sami Khedira's header in the 82nd minute stood as the winner. Uruguay couldn't clear Mesut Ozil's corner kick out of danger and the ball popped up to the head of Khedira. The 23-year-old midfielder made no mistake of his chance, knocking it into the top right corner.
Goal of the match
Uruguay briefly held a 2-1 lead, thanks to a goal from their star striker Diego Forlan in the 51st minute. Egidio Arevalo-Rios chipped in a cross from the right side, which Forlan struck perfectly, one-timing a volley that bounced once off the slick turf and past German goalkeeper Joerg Butt, who stood stunned in his cleats. It was Forlan's fifth goal of the World Cup, which ties him for the tournament lead with Thomas Mueller of Germany, Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands and David Villa of Spain.
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Man of the match
Germany's Thomas Mueller, returning to action after sitting out the semifinal versus Spain due to yellow cards, showed why he was one of the breakout stars of the World Cup. The 20-year-old scored his fifth goal of the tournament in the 19th minute, deftly sidefooting in a rebound from a Bastian Schweinsteiger shot, and kept the Uruguayan defence honest throughout the match with his speed and skill.
The German perspective
"Luckily we won, because the disappointment over the semifinal was still there. We were behind and we rallied, that shows the character if this team. I am very proud of this team although I have tears in one eye because we did not reach the final." — midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The Uruguayan perspective
"Obviously, it's something spectacular to be among the top four. If someone would've asked us at the beginning, we would've liked it. It's something positive." — striker Diego Forlan.