Group G, Match 3
Miroslav Klose scored his 15th World Cup goal to salvage a late 2-2 draw with Ghana in Fortaleza, reports Goal.com.
The veteran striker came off the bench in the 70th minute in Fortaleza on Saturday and had an almost immediate impact, prodding home at the back post in trademark fashion to take his finals tally to 15, level with legendary Brazilian Ronaldo.
After a turgid first half, the game burst into life six minutes after the break when Mario Gotze finished Thomas Muller's wonderful right-wing cross.
Knowing that defeat would leave them on the brink of elimination, Ghana were sparked into action and turned the match around through Andre Ayew's header and then Asamoah Gyan's clinical finish.
Gyan's goal sparked action from Germany head coach Joachim Low, who introduced Klose in place of Gotze, and - as he has done so often in the past - the 36-year-old showed his predatory instincts with 19 minutes left to earn his side a point.
The draw means that Germany remain top of Group G on four points, although they could be overtaken by the United States should Jurgen Klinsmann's side beat Portugal on Sunday.
Ghana fielded three changes from their 2-1 defeat to the United States and made a bright start, Gyan firing an effort over the crossbar under pressure from Per Mertesacker in the seventh minute.
Christian Atsu brought the first save out of either goalkeeper six minutes later, stinging the palms of Manuel Neuer with a 25-yard drive.
One of Ghana's alterations saw Fatawu Dauda come in for Adam Kwarasey, but the replacement keeper was not tested until the 18th minute, comfortably holding a low curling effort from Sami Khedira.
As the first half wore on, Ghana became more assured, Sulley Muntari thumping in a piledriver from 30 yards which Neuer had to repel with a flying save high to his right 12 minutes before the break.
The Germans went ahead six minutes after the interval, Gotze nodding Muller's pin-point cross home in unusual fashion - via his knee - from 12 yards with Dauda motionless.
Ghana were behind for just three minutes though, Ayew glancing in Harrison Afful's right-wing delivery to bring his side level for the second game in succession. And nine minutes later the African side had turned the match on its head.
Philipp Lahm, usually so reliable on the ball, squandered possession for the Germans and after a perfectly weighted pass from Muntari, Gyan whipped a finish across Neuer and into the net for his fifth World Cup goal, the joint highest tally for any man representing an African nation, along with Cameroon's Roger Milla.
As Germany pressed for an equaliser, they left themselves susceptible on the counter-attack. Substitute Jordan Ayew raced away down the left before firing a weak shot at Neuer with his team-mates better placed.
However, with an upset looking to be on the cards, Klose stepped up to the mark.
The Lazio man brought Germany level with 19 minutes to play, reacting first to prod the ball home at the far post after Benedikt Howedes had glanced on Toni Kroos' left-wing corner.
Klose even spurned a late chance to win it, wasting a golden opportunity to claim the landmark outright when he fired wide from the edge of the box in the 90th minute.
But it was still enough to earn him a place in the record books, and his side a point, although there were worrying scenes for Low at the end with Muller bleeding profusely at the final whistle after banging his head against the shoulder of John Boye late on.
Man of the Match: M Gotze (GER)
Match Commentary - as it happened
The goalless first half was one to forget. But someone must have flipped the switch at the break! Gotze, Andre Ayew, Gyan and Klose all traded goals during a spellbinding 20 minute spell - with Klose scoring a landmark 15th World Cup career goal.
The incredible 2014 World Cup continues with a game that was as entertaining as any we've seen. Germany and Ghana split the points in the end.
90` + 2` WHAT AN ABSOLUTE WASTE! It was all set for Ghana, as they have a FIVE on TWO break! The headlines must have been clearly racing through the head of Ayew, who has options all around him but chooses the one man - Wakaso - in an offside position to pass to! Shocking execution on that play.
90` GERMANY MISS ONE AS WELL! Does the action never stop? Klose mirrors Gyan's effort from seconds ago as he collects the ball in space just inside the area, but he slams a shot inches wide of the far post!
89` OFF TARGET! Gyan gets some room and some time right at the top of the penalty area to endeavour to test Neuer, but his effort flashes wide of the post in the end!
89` Germany have never lost when Miroslav Klose has scored. But Ghana are having a right go at this in the closing stages! The Black Stars push forward again for a winner!
88` NEUER SAVES! The carousel continues! Jordan Ayew has been active since his introduction and after shaking off Lahm, he decides to pull the trigger from 25 yards! However, Neuer sees it and gets down to smother!
86` AGAIN GHANA GET RID! Ozil this time is the man with space and from the left flank, he drills in a teasing low ball that Mensah scrambles clear in a hurry before Klose can pounce!
85` ASAMOAH MAY HAVE SAVED GHANA'S BACON! Muller took Ozil's pass on the turn and looked to be clean through on goal! However, out of nowhere, the Juventus man sprints in heroically to slide the ball off Muller's toes! End to end stuff!
84` Germany breathe a sigh of relief as the linesman's flag is up as Gyan lofts a potentially devastating cross in to an unmarked Jordan Ayew. The substitute misses the header for good measure.
83` Ayew goes for goal rather ambitiously, but Neuer never has cause to worry. Perhaps not the wisest decision but with two goals to his name already in the tournament, who can blame him for trying his luck!
82` Possession has changed hands about five times in the last two minutes as both sides try to engineer the final breakthrough. No telling who will come out on top.
81` Tense moments in the stands as we enter the final stretch. Whereas the fans may have seen their concentration drift during a slow paced first half, people are barely wasting time to blink now. What a finish in store!
79` What a second half this has turned out to be! Four goals inside an insane 20 minutes spell! Should this scoreline hold, then it keeps Group G very tight as Ghana will definitely avoid elimination with potentially all four teams still competing for a knockout place come the final matchday!
78` Substitution: Mohammed Rabiu out, Badu in.
78` Rabiu has just about run out of steam after a tireless game in the middle of the bark. He is replaced by Badu, the 23-year-old Udinese midfielder. The full allocation of substitutes now used up by both coaches.
77` Kroos, Muller, Ozil and Schweinsteiger all line up behind the ball. It's an elaborate training ground deception in the end, as the first three all run over the ball to allow Bastian the chance to curl one in on goal. However, his attempt clears the crossbar by about a foot.
75` Schweinsteiger misses a header narrowly from inside the area after another dangerous Kroos delivery. The crowd gasp as that one whistles past the post! Moments later, Ozil is hacked mid-pivot just outside the area. Really tasty free kick chance for Die Mannschaft now...
73` Klose has now tallied 15 World Cup career goals, drawing level with the tally of the great Ronaldo - the Brazilian one. Bets off on him taking that belt outright by the time this tournament is all said and done!
72` Substitution: Christian Twasam Atsu out, Wakaso in.
71` Assist Benedikt Höwedes
71` Goal Miroslav Klose
A RECORD EQUALING GOAL FOR KLOSE! The ball comes in from the left via Kroos' corner and is flicked towards the far post by Howedes. There lies Klose, who with his first touch, stabs it unmarked into the back of the net! What a game!
71` INSANE! IMMEDIATE IMPACT!
70` Substitution: Sami Khedira out, Bastian Schweinsteiger in.
70` Khedira is the man sacrificed for Schweinsteiger. Low follows that immediately with his last throw of the dice, taking off the goalscoer Gotze and introducing Klose into the fray - one goal away from a record 15th World Cup goal. All three German subs on the pitch now.
69` Substitution: Mario Götze out, Miroslav Klose in.
67` GHANA SPURN IT! A magnificent chance for 3-1! Jordan Ayew has the freedom of the Castelao to scamper down the left. He's got options in the centre against an undermanned German defence, but he chooses to cut in and go it alone. However, his shot is right at Neuer! Gyan is fuming!
66` A superb challenge from Mensah takes the ball right off the toes of Muller, who had turned expertly and was milliseconds away from getting a shot away. But the defender slid in and won the ball cleanly.
65` YET ANOTHER comeback at the 2014 World Cup. Ghana deserve everything they've got, because their fortunes have been built on a sterling defensive effort from all 11 men on the field. Suddenly, Germany are looking at the unthinkable!
63` Assist André Ayew
63` Goal Asamoah Gyan
AFRICA IS IN DREAMLAND! What a turnaround! Germany are careless with the ball in their own half, and Muntari gets the scope to slide a perfect pass into space for Gyan. The striker runs onto it and lashes a perfect finish across Neuer!
62` Looks like Schweinsteiger is about to come on for Germany. Low's first two substitutions are to bring on a defender and a midfielder. Perhaps he sees the current frontline as working.
60` Ozil feeds Mustafi on the overlap, but the substitute's cross is within the range of Dauda, who plucks it out of the air. He's keen to make up for his rather submissive play during that Ghana goal.
59` So, we're back to square one essentially, with Germany chasing a go-ahead goal. They're back on the front foot in terms of possession, but Ghana are holding firm.
58` Muntari attempts to press home Ghana's momentum with a long range free kick, but going for goal from 30 yards on that occasion was not one of his better ideas. Neuer watches it sail well wide.
56` The momentum is all with Ghana at the moment! I mentioned Ayew's aerial ability before and boy did he leap to meet that! He was a good foot above his marker Mustafi when Afful's cross came in. It's all to play for now!
54` Assist Harrison Afful
54` Goal André Ayew
Well that didn't take long did it? Moments after Jordan entered the fray, the other Ayew, Andre, brings Ghana back on terms! It's eerily similar to the German opener, as Afful's inch perfect ball is planted into the back of the net via Ayew's powerful header!
54` AYEW TIES IT UP! INCREDIBLE!
53` Ten goals in 31 Germany games now for Gotze, as Appiah responds to a suddenly critical situation, taking off Boateng and bringing on Jordan Ayew. Meanwhile, a rogue fan has quickly been hauled off the pitch.
52` Substitution: Kevin-Prince Boateng out, Jordan Ayew in.
51` Assist Thomas Müller
51` Goal Mario Götze
Perfect start to the second half! Muller holds the ball up near the corner of the box, waiting for Gotze's run between the centre backs. The ball is perfect, and Gotze heads it down off his knee and into the back of the net. Not a clean hit, but a clean result!
51` BREAKTHROUGH! GERMANY AHEAD!
50` Rabiu and Muntari, the midfield pair for Ghana, are unsurprisingly the two Black Stars players one booking away from a suspension. The combative pair both saw yellow earlier in the tourney against the Americans.
49` Defeat will not spell the end for Ghana here of course but should they lose, then they will need Portugal to do them a solid and take full points against USA on Sunday.
48` Afful simply out-muscles Gotze on the left hand side. He put his body in between the Bayern man and the ball, and expertly shepherded it over the byeline for a goalkick. Splendid defending.
47` One change for Germany at the break. Off goes Jerome Boateng, and on comes Shkodran Mustafi, one of the surprise picks in Lowe's 23 man squad. He'll slot right into the vacated full back spot.
46` Substitution: Jerome Boateng out, Shkodran Mustafi in.
46` Start of second half.
Low has Podolski, Schurrle, Draxler and that man Klose in reserve should he need a breakthrough later in this game. Germany's bench could probably make the quarter finals at least were they a separate team. Incredible depth in Die Mannschaft's ranks.
The conditions have definitely played a factor in the conservative pace of this game. It's cooled down in Fortaleza to a still sweltering 29 degrees Celsius, with the humidity apparently palpable in the stadium.
Neuer has been the busier goalie with a pair of saves, although both stops were ones that you would expect a keeper of his caliber to make. Ghana have had a few glimpses in attack but mostly, it's been all hands to the pump defensively.
More of a chess match than a carnival here in Fortaleza. Germany have struggled to break down the Ghana ranks in front of Dauda's goal. In fact, the keeper has not been seriously tested as yet.
45` + 2` The referee brings an end to the first half.
45` + 1` Germany hustle every man back inside the penalty area to defend the resulting corner. There's terror for a moment as Neuer makes only fleeting contact on the delivery, but his touch is enough to take it off the toes of two onrushing Ghanaian players.
45` Some possession for Ghana in the final stages of the half, and it nearly leads to something! Atsu lofts a deep cross from the right hand side and Ayew, a prolific scorer in the air for his size, connects with a header but it deflects off Hummels for a corner!
43` We're slowly drifting out into half time here, as Ghana have done well to negotiate the match so far. Appiah will probably want more of the same after the interval from his hard working side.
42` Perhaps Low could take a risk in the second half and re-jig his back four, getting the likes of Lahm back in the full back positions. Germany's best work has come down the flanks, and overloading in those areas on the Ghanaian defence could be key to a breakthrough.
41` Not a bad ball from Muller! He drills it in with his left boot, and it flashes right across the six-yard area, crucially avoiding contact with Gotze's outstretched boot! Ghana exposed for a moment!
40` Ghana try to advance into the attacking third for the first time in ages, but Ayew's ambitious ball towards Gyan has the assistant waving his flag almost immediately for offside.
39` Muller made a decent run diagonally across the face of the Ghanaian defence but Gotze, on the ball, failed to spot his movement in time. Germany recycle possession once again.
38` It's been all too static in the midfield from Germany, who are keeping a hold of the ball, but having little luck tricking their way past their robust and well-drilled Ghanaian counterparts.
37` Dauda forced to make his first save of the game, but it's far from a difficult one. Gozte decided to try his luck from 25 yards at an angle on the right side of the field, but the keeper was perfectly positioned to catch.
36` The fans in the Estadio Castelao are starting to lose interest in matters out on the pitch. It's been a real grind it out affair so far and to be quite honest, a point doesn't hurt either side.
35` More good defence from Ghana, as Ozil times a run perfectly to slide a low ball into the danger zone, only for Boye to hack it clear ahead of the lurking Muller, who popped into the six-yard area to profit.
33` ONCE AGAIN, NEUER HAS TO SAVE! Muntari is another on the pitch today known for his prolific long range ability. He lashes one towards goal from all of 30 yards, and it swerves with some power, forcing the Bayern stopper to punch it away!
32` Half a chance there for Ghana, as Germany fail to rob Muntari of the ball on the edge of the area. It's spread wide to Ayew, who has popped up on the right to loft a cross in for Gyan, but it's too far over the head of the striker.
31` Half an hour gone and still goalless. To be honest, we haven't yet had that one golden chance from either side. Otherwise, the Germans have been patient against a resilient Gnana defensive effort.
30` Suddenly, Gotze is away! Down the right he goes scampering, well ahead of the chasing Asamoah. He spots Muller making that ever so dangerous run towards the near post and attempts to oblige him with a low cross, but Boye gets there first!
29` We've gotten as close as we ever have in this game to a Boateng on Boateng confrontation, as Kevin-Prince loses the handle on a pass, leading to Jerome restarting the match with a throw in. It's been an increasingly low key game as the half has progressed.
27` Ghana haven't shown anything in the attacking third for almost 10 minutes, after a really positive initial spell. Germany are beginning to tighten the noose here. The possession stats show the European side having just about two thirds of the ball so far.
25` Mensah pulls off an athletic clearance with a high degree of difficulty to prevent Muller from getting a sight on goal. Moments later Germany come again, but they fail to find the target as Kroos slams a shot too far away from the top corner of Dauda's goal.
23` So far, Ghana are doing a much better job of denying Germany space in the final third than Portugal did in their opener. Against the Seleccao, Ozil and Co. had basically free reign in that zone between the midfield and defensive lines. No such luck here so far, with Muntari, Rabiu and Asamoah patrolling that region well.
21` Akwasi Appiah is clearly unhappy with something on the sidelines, and he's bellowing instructions at his team with a pained expression on his face. He's been the coach of the senior Black Stars squad since 2012, his promotion coming after winning the All Africa games with the Under-23 squad back in 2011, and serving as the assistant manager of the senior side since 2007.
19` Certainly, Ghana's strength in attack is the mobility of their front players, so perhaps it was a wise decision by Low to stick with a very defensive back four. Die Mannschaft have plenty of quality still in attacking areas to make up for the lack of conventional overlapping full backs.
17` Speaking of the Estadio Castelao, there's been serious considerations towards allowing a water break in this game. It's cooled down somewhat, but a few hours ago, it was absolutely sweltering here in Fortaleza, well over 30 degrees Celsius. Let's see what the referee decides.
16` Just over a quarter of an hour gone. It's been a very even game here in the Estadio Castelao, with the only edge going to Germany in terms of possession. Good show for the fans so far.
15` Well, Neuer's the first keeper forced to make a save in this game, which will surely hand Ghana some confidence. He's only ever lost three times in a Germany shirt, the Bayern Munich No. 1.
14` A great period of pressure from Ghana! First, Atsu forces Neuer into action with a determined shot from the top of the box. A save you would expect Neuer to make, but Ghana hot back down the opposite side, with Ayew's dangerous cross forcing Hummels to clear in a hurry!
12` Germany keep working at it though. Muller has the ball inside the area, and fakes a shot, before rolling it back to the onrushing Kroos. He can definitely hit them from range, so Ghana are relieved to see Rabiu block his shot! Good chance for Germany!
11` Gotze gets the ball in a promising position just inside the Ghana final third, and he has options left and right. Particularly appealing is Ozil's run down the wing, but the pass from Gotze has a little too much mustard on it to keep the flow of the move going.
10` Germany starting to get into their stride now. It's Ozil's turn to adopt the foremost position in attack, as he tries to latch onto Muller's threaded pass between Boye and Afful. Dauda though is out to claim.
9` Khedira slings a pass down the right hand side for Gotze, who sees Muller calling for it in the middle of the park. He delivers the cross onto his teammate's head, and the knockdown is close to Khedira, but Mensah shows great composure to head back to Dauda.
7` First shot in anger, and it falls to Ghana. Gyan hits a first-time effort from the right side of the box, but it whistles well wide of Neuer's goal. The former Sunderland and Udinese man is making a record ninth appearance for the Black Stars in the World Cup competition.
5` Speaking of Boateng, he's always had a strange relationship with German football in general. Back in the 2010 FA Cup final, he was the man whose tackle on then German skipper Michael Ballack ruled him out of the World Cup in South Africa.
3` No surprise to see Germany take a stranglehold on possession almost right away. However, there is some early work for Howedes to do as Boateng squares up to him, but the referee comes to his aid, penalizing the Schalke man for a foul on his club captain.
There's been only two meetings in the past between these two sides. Germany ran out 6-1 winners in a 1993 friendly. More familiar would be their encounter from the last World Cup in 2010, where Die Mannschaft ground out a 1-0 win over the African side.
Interestingly, both sides field central midfielders who have plenty of experience in the full back positions. Kwadwo Asamoah of Ghana is a regular as a left wing back for Juventus, while Germany skipper Philipp Lahm has been converted from probably the world's best full back into an elite midfield schemer in the last year or so.
Germany of course are firm favourites to take top honours come July, and they can make a first step towards that goal with a win here - which will guarantee them a place in the round of 16. They certainly made a statement with an emphatic opening 4-0 win over Portugal.
With Ghana letting a point slip very late against USA in the initial group encounter, there is massive pressure on them now to edge out a result against Germany here. A defeat would not be critical, but it would leave them with a lot to do in their final group game against Portugal.
Speaking of Jerome Boateng, well, we've all heard the pre-match chatter about him squaring up against his brother, Kevin-Prince Boateng, who plays for Ghana, It's not exactly an strange occurence since the latter's move to Schakle, where he has faced Bayern Munich and by extension, his sibling, a few times. We can be sure that there will be no love lost when the first whistle blows though.
The relentless Andre Ayew was a few shades below his best against USA in Ghana's tournament opener, but he is another in the African side's XI to blend impressive athleticism with technique. An interesting battle beckons with the defence-minded Jerome Boateng on the flanks.
For Ghana, a lot will surely rest on their main man up front, Asamoah Gyan. He has the pace to trouble the Germany central defence, a not exactly lightning quick duo made up of Hummels and Per Mertesacker.
Joachim Low is defying convention at the back as well - naming four central defenders once again in his back four. The good news for Die Mannschaft is that Mats Hummels is fit enough to start, after he had to be helped off the pitch during their 4-0 win over Portugal. he suffered a bloody gash, but it turned out to be no more than a contact wound.
So, as expected for Germany, there is no recognised striker in their XI. It's a fluid front four from Germany, with Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller and even Mesut Ozil roaming around Toni Kroos, who will start in an advanced midfield position.
GHANA SUBS: Essien, Adomah, Wakaso, Kwarasey, J. Ayew, Badu, Inkoom, Adams, Opare, Acquah, Waris, Sumaila.
GHANA (4-5-1): Dauda; Afful, Mensah, Boye, Asamoah; Rabiu, Muntari, Boateng, Atsu, A. Ayew; Gyan.
GERMANY SUBS: Großkreutz, Ginter, Schweinsteiger, Schürrle, Podolski, Klose, Zieler, Draxler, Durm, Mustafi, Weidenfeller, Kramer.
GERMANY (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Howedes, Hummels, Boateng, Mertesacker; Lahm, Khedira; Ozil, Kroos, Muller; Gotze.
Lineups en route.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com