Saturday, June 10, 2006

Germany 4-2 Costa Rica

What a start to the Greatest Show on Earth! After a rather low key opening ceremony (as per FIFA's orders), the world witnessed the highest scoring opening match in World Cup history, and arguably the most exciting one too. World Cup 2006 was less than 6 minutes old when young leftback Philip Lahm rounded a defender and curled one into the top corer at the far post, from the corner of the 18 yard box. Now you know you are in for a treat when someone like Philip Lahm opens the scoring, that too in such spectacular fashion!
German celebrations didn't last long however. In the 12th minute, a clumsily worked offside trap let Paulo Wanchope take advantage and he went through on goal alone, placing the ball past a hapless Jens Lehmann, for whom things would get worse moments later when he injured his ankle (someone please tell me where Oliver Kahn goes to pray- I could do with some luck myself!).
Parity had been restored, but it lasted less than 5 minutes, with Miroslav Klose tapping one in after good work by Schneider and Schweinsteiger. He doubled his tally after the break with some quick reflexes after the keeper stopped his bullet header. Remember, this guy had been written off after the last world cup, even though he scored 5 goals then to be second in the scoring charts. The media blasted his apparent lack of ability when deprived of space to head the ball. Now, he came in to this match as the German Footballer of the Year, and scored 2 goals with those 'non-functional' feet of his, taking his World Cup tally to an impressive 7 goals from 8 games.
Soon after Klose's substitution, Wanchope took advantage of another offside trap gone wrong, Arne Friedrich the guilty party on both occasions, to spark the game back to life. Then, in the 87th minute, Torsten Frings struck. Yes, you read it right. Torsten Frings. Guy who barely ever shoots, forget score. Receiving a pass from Schweinsteiger, he let go from over 30 yards, straight into the top corner, to score a goal that may remain the best this World Cup has seen even after the next one month has gone by. 6 goals in the opening match, a new record, including 2 stunners from very unlikely sources that can stand out in comparison with almost any goal in World Cup history. This was already turning out to be a stunning World Cup.
Things only got better for neutrals, when Ecuador upset Poland 2-0. After a stunning qualification campaign, the Poles were favourites to qualify from this group with Germany, but now find that they need a miracle to progress in this tournament.
Elsewhere, the Togo team suffered a huge loss when coach Otto Pfister resigned over a pay dispute. The team now finds itself in the unenviable position of having to go through the Group stages with an interim coach.

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