Ger­mans primed to chill Chile Lop­sided win over Mex­ico sets up Con­fed fi­nal show­down

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

SOCHI, Rus­sia — Just how much Leon Goret­zka wanted to seize his op­por­tu­nity in an ex­per­i­men­tal Ger­many squad be­came clear after only eight min­utes against Mex­ico on Thurs­day.

With two goals in the space of 109 sec­onds, Goret­zka put the de­fen­sively-ragged Mex­i­cans on the back foot and set Ger­many on its way to the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup fi­nal with a clin­i­cal 4-1 vic­tory.

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew is us­ing the World Cup warm-up tour­na­ment to as­sess his pool of tal­ent, rest­ing all but three of his world cham­pi­ons from 2014.

Sil­ver­ware was never the pri­or­ity, but the World Cup will have an­other tro­phy for com­pany if Loew’s fledglings can beat Chile on Sun­day in St. Peters­burg.

Ger­many drew 1-1 with the South Amer­i­can cham­pion in the group stage, re­cov­er­ing after con­ced­ing in the sixth minute — and learn­ing from the lax start.

“Against Chile we were caught off guard; we’d dis­cussed that be­fore­hand and im­ple­mented it well to­day,” the 22-year-old Goret­zka said.

“After get­ting through the group stage, our ob­jec­tive was to reach the fi­nal. We’ve done that con­vinc­ingly. Now we want to win the ti­tle and re­ward our­selves for our per­for­mances so far.”

All three Ger­man scor­ers in the south­ern Rus­sian re­sort of Sochi were play­ers mak­ing their tour­na­ment de­buts. After Goret­zka net­ted in the 6th and 8th min­utes, Timo Werner and Amin Younes scored in the sec­ond half.

“They have de­vel­oped re­ally well,” Loew said at Fisht Sta­dium. “Over th­ese weeks, we have be­come a gen­uine team and that is im­por­tant. They are very am­bi­tious and yearn­ing to be part of the na­tional team.”

De­spite the em­phatic score line, Ger­many goal­keeper Marc-An­dre Ter Ste­gen was kept busy. There were 25 shots on goal, but he only con- ceded in the 89th minute, beaten by Marco Fabian’s long-range swerv­ing shot.

Mex­ico will now head to Moscow to play Por­tu­gal in the third-place match on Sun­day after pay­ing the price for af­ford­ing Ger­many too much space to slice through its de­fense.

“We didn’t have a good start to the game, and they took ad­van­tage,” Fabian said. “We have to ac­knowl­edge that we dared to play as equals.

“Some­times adren­a­line plays a trick on us. Some­times we make mis­takes that they take ad­van­tage of. We have to learn to be ef­fec­tive and take ad­van­tage of their mis­takes.”

It was a mis­placed header by cap­tain Hec­tor Moreno that freed Goret­zka to launch the at­tack that he com­pleted to put Ger­many in front.

Goret­zka seized pos­ses­sion around the halfway line, passed to Ben­jamin Hen­richs on the right flank and ac­cel­er­ated to re­ceive the ball back be­fore sweep­ing in a low shot from 20 meters.

Mex­ico was jolted and had not re­grouped when its de­fense was shred­ded again. Werner threaded the ball through for Goret­zka to slot un­der the legs of goal­keeper Guillermo Ochoa at the near post and claim his third goal of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“His spe­cial forte is that he can run longer dis­tances,” Loew said after the Schalke mid­fielder’s eighth in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance. “Run­ning those long dis­tances sets him apart from the rest.”

Ger­many squan­dered an op­por­tu­nity for a third goal when Werner struck straight at Ochoa. Soon Ter Ste­gen was be­ing re­peat­edly called into ac­tion, us­ing his out­stretched right leg to clear a shot from Gio­vani Dos San­tos and div­ing to block the fol­low-up from Jonathan Dos San­tos.

Mex­ico had an even bet­ter chance to pull one back. The ball broke for Javier Her­nan­dez and the striker only had Ter Ste­gen to beat but the shot was lifted too high.

In the 59th minute, a flow­ing move saw Ger­many cap­tain Ju­lian Draxler and Jonas Hec­tor com­bine to set up the un­marked Werner, who tapped his shot into the gap­ing goal.

Chile’s in­de­struc­tible team spirit and un­yield­ing at­ti­tude have laid the foun­da­tions for a hugely suc­cess­ful run that will see it con­test a third straight in­ter­na­tional fi­nal at the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

Clau­dio Bravo proved Chile’s hero on Wed­nes­day as the Manch­ester City goal­keeper saved all three penal­ties to elim­i­nate Por­tu­gal in a semi­fi­nal shootout fol­low­ing a 0-0 draw after ex­tra time in Kazan.

“That was un­be­liev­ably stress­ful,” said the 34-year-old Bravo, as Chile won 3-0 on penal­ties to set up a show­down against Ger­many on Sun­day.

“This team never gives up, which means we can achieve great things like this.”

With the Euro­pean cham­pion van­quished, Chile is ea­ger for the re­match with world cham­pion Ger­many as it at­tempts to add the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup tro­phy to its 2015 and 2016 Copa Amer­ica ti­tles in Saint Peters­burg.

“That was a crazy end, the first penalty is al­ways the most

CARL RECINE / REUTERS

Mex­ico’s Hirv­ing Lozano som­er­saults after col­lid­ing with Ger­many’s Lars Stindl dur­ing Thurs­day’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup semi­fi­nal in Sochi, Rus­sia. Ger­many won 4-1 and will face Chile in Sun­day’s fi­nal.

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