Germany came out on top of a five-goal thriller in Port Elizabeth last night to finish third for the second World Cup in a row and the fourth time in their history. Although there was little at stake for either team at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, bar the consolation prize of third place, there were plenty of individual plaudits on the line. Miroslav Klose was in the running for the Golden Boot, with four goals, and also needed one more to equal Brazilian Ronaldo's all-time World Cup record of 15. But the Bayern Munich striker was left out of Germany's starting line-up.
Klose had been suffering from flu and, at the age of 32, it is likely this was his last World Cup, leaving him one goal short of a place in the record books. Still, with the pressure off both sides, the game began in an open fashion and one sensed goals would flow. In fact it was Klose's clubmate, Thomas Muller, 12 years his junior, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute and put his name in the reckoning for the Golden Boot with his fifth of the tournament to go level with Holland's Wesley Sneijder and Spain's David Villa.
After Arne Friedrich had hit the bar from a corner in the ninth minute, Muller swept the ball home after Bastian Schweinsteiger's swerving shot was saved by Fernando Muslera, the Uruguay goalkeeper. Edison Cavani hit back for Uruguay in the 28th minute as Schweinsteiger lost possession in his own half, and a slide-rule pass by Luis Suarez set the Palermo striker away to slide a shot past goalkeeper Hans Joerg Butt.
The second half began in the same frantic fashion and just six minutes in, Uruguay were ahead. Egidio Arevalo sent a low cross into the box. Waiting was Diego Forlan, Uruguay's player of the tournament, and he hammered and instinctive volley down into the ground and past Butt in the Germany goal to make it 2-1. It sent the Atletico Madrid striker on to five goals as well. The South Americans were on top and it looked like they could grab a third at any minute. Then Germany equalised.
Jerome Boateng swung in a cross from the right and Muslera flapped at it, allowing Marcell Jansen to head into an empty net. Suarez responded with a curling thunderbolt that Butt did well to parry. And the scoring was not over. With eight minutes left, Mesut Ozil hit a corner from the right and, after the ball had ricocheted around the box, Sami Khedira nodded the ball home to put Germany 3-2 up. There was one last chance for Forlan, who rattle the bar with the last kick of the game from a free kick.
* Compiled by Thomas Woods, with agencies