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Podolski double takes Germany past Swedes

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June 24, 2006 23:01 IST

Lukas Podolski struck twice in the first 12 minutes on Saturday as hosts Germany swept into the World Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over 10-man Sweden.

The 21-year-old striker scored after four minutes with a deflected drive and then again eight minutes later with a precise finish from a clever pass by Miroslav Klose as the three-times champions took masterful control.

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Germany, performing with great power and belief and backed by extraordinary support, will meet Argentina or Mexico in the last eight in Berlin on Friday.

Sweden were out-fought and, for spells, out-thought. They had a man sent off and Henrik Larsson missed a second-half penalty on an afternoon they will wish to forget.

Stunned by the Germans' high-tempo opening spell, they were reduced to 10 men after 35 minutes when central defender Teddy Lucic was sent off.

The luckless Lucic, who with partner Olof Mellberg struggled to contain the movement and interchanges of Klose and Podolski, was dismissed for two yellow cards in eight minutes for fouls on Klose.

Sweden scrapped their way back into the game before the interval when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with a low shot on the turn from eight metres, forced an athletic low save from Jens Lehmann.


But the Germans, buoyed by their two-goal blitz, were in command and this allowed Torsten Frings and Michael Ballack to dictate the pace and shape of their game from central midfield where the Swedes were mostly outnumbered.

The opening goal was made by Klose who won a ball in the air, collected it again and turned past two defenders. His shot was blocked, but Podolski followed up and though Lucic dived to try to head clear the shot flew in.

The second came when Klose drew three defenders with a diagonal run and then played a reverse pass across the area for Podolski to fire in his third goal of the tournament.

Apart from the goals, the German fans, heavily outnumbering the Swedes in a 66,000 sell-out crowd at the Allianz Arena, enjoyed a series of near-misses by their team as they basked in warm sunshine and the 32 degrees Celsius heat.

Sweden were awarded a harsh-looking penalty after 52 minutes when Christoph Metzelder made a late challenge on Larsson but the 34-year-old striker blazed his spot kick over the bar.

Ballack drove a 23-metre shot against Andreas Isaksson's left post as the Germans regained their composure but Sweden, to their credit, refused to give up and created more anxious moments before the end.

Timothy Collings
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