Germany and Ghana traded blows in a pulsating 2-2 tie in Fortaleza on Saturday.
The result leaves Germany at the top of Group G with four points from two games; a win for the United States against Portugal in Manaus tomorrow would give the Americans sole possession of top spot.
After a torpid first half of patient German possession and quick Ghanaian counterattacks, the game sprang to life in the 51st minute, when Mario Gotze capped a long run to head home Thomas Muller’s fine cross.
The Germans had barely finished celebrating when Ghana pulled level; Andre Ayew rose above a static German defense to head past Manuel Neuer in the 54th minute.
The Black Stars took a shock lead in the 63rd minute, after Sulley Muntari broke up some sloppy German play in their own midfield to send a pass to Asamoah Gyan. The striker raced in on goal, took one touch to control the ball and another to fire it past the outstretched fingertips of Manuel Neuer.
But Germany Coach Joachim Low had an ace up his sleeve: the veteran striker Miroslav Klose. Germany won a corner, and Klose’s first action was to pop up at the far post to poke home a loose ball that flashed across the goalmouth. The goal was Klose’s 15th in World Cup finals play, tying him with Brazil’s Ronaldo as the all-time leading scorer. He also became the third player to score in four tournaments alongside Pele and Germany’s Uwe Seeler.
Both teams had chances in a frenetic finale, but neither could provide a winner. The result left Germany with four points and Ghana still alive in Group G.
Germany now faces the United States in Recife on June 26. Ghana will travel to Brasilia to play Portugal.
Messi wonder goal saves Argentina against Iran
Lionel Messi spared Argentina’s blushes with a wonderful last-gasp winner against unheralded Iran at the World Cup on Saturday to give the South Americans a 1-0 victory and passage to the last 16.
Argentina’s fabled “Fab Four” strike force had appeared heading for a blank despite dominating possession to the frustration of their massed hordes of fans who came expecting a goalfest at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium.
But four-times world player of the year Messi, who has struggled to reproduce his Barcelona form at past World Cups, curled the ball in during stoppage time to send them wild with his second goal of two games in Brazil.
“With Messi, everything is possible,” said relieved Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella, praising Iran for playing a “great” game and making it difficult for his side.
Watched by past Argentine great Diego Maradona in a 57,698 crowd, Messi had appeared in an unthreatening position when he received the ball on the right in the 91st minute.
Then dropping his shoulder and cutting quickly inside, he curled a simply brilliant 25-yard left-foot shot over Iran’s massed defense and into the far corner past outstanding goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi’s outstretched hand.
“Not even two goalkeepers could have stopped that Lionel shot,” Sabella added.
The result was probably fair given Argentina’s 71 percent possession and superior ballplay in the middle but felt cruel after Iran had grown in confidence and begun counter-attacking neatly to complement their solid defense.
The result leaves Argentina on top of Group F with six points from two games and takes them into the knockout stage.
ARGENTINA WILL NEED MORE GUILE
Sabella’s men will need more guile and precision, however, than they have shown against both Bosnia and Iran, if they want to take home a third World Cup.
Iran, on just one point after a draw with Nigeria and widely viewed as one of the weakest teams in Brazil, were shattered by the game’s denouement but will take heart from a fantastic performance against one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
Their final game is against Bosnia, who face Nigeria later on Saturday
Constantly crowded out by two and sometimes three Iranians, Messi had until the end been unable to pull the strings and again vomited on the pitch in the first half. The Argentine captain put two free kicks wide in either half, and saw a shot go wide after a trademark run early in the second.
In a succession of wasted Argentine first half chances, Gonzalo Higuain was quickly shut down by goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi in a one-on-one in the 13th minute, Angel Di Maria shot over the bar and Sergio Aguero had a curling shot well saved.