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Germany Sees Red in Victory

Group E: A 2-0 win over Cameroon, coming despite playing a man short for 37 minutes, is ticket to next round.


SHIZUOKA, Japan — Germany's incredible shrinking soccer team, which lost four starters to injury before the start of the World Cup and another to a red card in the 40th minute Tuesday against Cameroon, has advanced to the knockout phase because of the one thing it managed not to lose during the first round: a game.

Again, Germany drew strength from attrition, backpedaling and scrambling to keep pace with the fleet Cameroonians until Carsten Ramelow was ejected for a harsh tackle of Samuel Eto'o. Short-handed again--nothing new in this tournament--Germany needed only 10 minutes to score and take control en route to a 2-0 victory.

This was supposed to be the weakest German World Cup team in 40 years, disappointing in the 2000 European Championships and depleted by injuries that sidelined regulars Mehmet Scholl, Sebastian Deisler, Dietmar Hamman and Christian Worns before the squad left for Japan.

Yet, Germany finished first in a difficult Group E with a 2-0-1 record, scoring 11 goals and yielding one--to Ireland's Robbie Keane in the 92nd minute of a 1-1 draw.

Cameroon, the defending Olympic and African champion, was favored by many to win the group title and duplicate its 1990 quarterfinal performance. But after taking a quick 1-0 lead in its opener against Ireland, the Indomitable Lions never seemed to recover from Matt Holland's second-half equalizer and the subsequent 1-1 draw.

Cameroon struggled to defeat Saudi Arabia, 1-0, days after Germany had pounded the Saudis for eight goals. And Tuesday, once German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn had snuffed Salomon Olembe's one-on-one breakaway attempt in the 13th minute, Cameroon's frustrations began to spill over, which contributed to a record 16 yellow cards.

A Lion player, Patrick Suffo, also was sent off, after a late tackle of Michael Ballack in the 77th minute.

It was an ugly affair, fittingly summarized by Cameroon Coach Winfried Schafer, who blamed his team's defeat on the red card that had given Cameroon a man advantage for 37 minutes.

"The decisive moment of the match was when Ramelow got a red card," Schafer said. "I would have preferred it if he'd stayed on the field and Olembe had scored."

Ten minutes after Ramelow left, substitute Marco Bode gave Germany a 1-0 lead, taking a feed from Miroslav Klose and sliding the ball past the diving effort of goalkeeper Boukar Alioum.

In the 79th minute, Klose made it 2-0 with a header on a cross from Ballack. Klose, who scored a hat trick against Saudi Arabia, leads the tournament with five goals.

"I told my players they had to work more, because 10 players on the field, instead of 11, tend to grow wings, as they say," Schafer said. "Cameroon did it at the Olympic Games. It is something that happens in the head."

Germany will next face the second-place finisher in Group B, Spain, South Africa or Paraguay. The Germans will begin that one with 11 men on the field.



*--* Scoring Leaders Top goal scorers, through Tuesday: Miroslav Klose, Germany...5 Jon Dahl Tomasson, Denmark...4 Pauleta, Portugal...3 Christian Vieri, Italy...3 Papa Bouba Diop, Senegal...3 Fernando Hierro, Spain...2 Junichi Inamoto, Japan...2 Robbie Keane, Ireland...2 Henrik Larsson, Sweden...2 Fernando Morientes, Spain...2 Rivaldo, Brazil...2 Ronaldo, Brazil...2 Marc Wilmots, Belgium...2


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