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Germany Finds Some Consolation

Players, crowd celebrate a 3-1 victory over Portugal in the third-place game behind two goals by Schweinsteiger.

July 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

STUTTGART, Germany — This third-place game had meaning -- for Germany, at least.

Capping their jubilant World Cup run in style, the hosts defeated Portugal, 3-1, Saturday behind two goals by Bastian Schweinsteiger.

He also set up the third, when his free kick was deflected in for an own-goal by Armando Petit.

Getting as far as the consolation game was an unexpected achievement for the young German team under Coach Juergen Klinsmann. It was also a far cry from playing in today's final at Berlin, where Italy plays France.

But at least it gave the home fans one last chance to party, and they embraced the opportunity.

The Germans savored the celebration that followed, locking arms, waving flags and smiling beneath the fireworks in the Gottlieb-Damlier stadium.

For 20 minutes, the sellout-crowd of 52,000 serenaded the players as they circled the field, highly visible in their white shirts long after the venue was darkened.

"These are special moments, we told the players to soak them up," Klinsmann said.

Schweinsteiger's two goals were almost identical.

In the 56th minute, he launched the ball without rotation, a frozen blast beyond the reach of leaping goalkeeper Ricardo Pereira.

Six minutes later, the midfielder -- who didn't start in Germany's 2-0 loss to Italy in the semifinals -- set up the own-goal as Petit deflected his free kick.

In the 78th, he again sent a rising shot sailing over the goalkeeper's hands. With this one he doffed his shirt, drawing applause from the crowd, which included seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

It was the third third-place finish for Germany, which has won the Cup three times.

Portugal failed to match its best Cup finish, in 1966. Eusebio, a member of that team, was on the bench Saturday.

"Germany played very well and was more efficient than we were," Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We lacked effectiveness in front of goal. We lacked quality and precision in our shots."

The game marked the end of international soccer for 37-year-old goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, who announced his retirement from the German national team. He played the entire game, his only action in seven games.

Portugal forward Luis Figo played as a late substitute.

"The spots were occupied and [the coach] decided to keep me out," said Figo, who looked displeased with Scolari's decision and retired from international soccer after the game.

"I'm leaving at a time when Portuguese soccer is at a high point," Figo said.

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