World Cup 2006 News
Rodriguez hammers Argentina into quarters against Germany
By Barry Whelan Jun 25, 2006, 0:54 GMT
Maxi Rodriguez (C) celebrates with his teammates Jose Antonio Castro (L) and Guillermo Ochoa the 2-1 against Mexico during the 2nd round match of 2006 FIFA World Cup between Argentina and Mexico at the FIFA World Cup stadium in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday 24 June 2006. EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN
Berlin - An extra time goal of true class by Maxi Rodriguez fired Argentina into the World Cup quarter-finals late Saturday, setting up a classy clash against old rivals Germany.
The two meet in Berlin next Friday, each having beaten the other in World Cup finals - Argentina winning in 1986 and Germany in 1990.
While Mexico gave Argentina a tough time in Leipzig, Germany sailed through in their 2-0 defeat of Sweden in Munich, with the young side of coach Juergen Klinsmann buoyed by a brace of goals from Lukas Podolski, both from assists by man of the match Miroslav Klose.
'That was a beautiful goal,' a beaming Rodriguez said after the Argentina win. 'The match was even right up to the end. And now we're up against one of the best teams.'
Podolski provided convincing evidence of that, scoring twice in the first 12 minutes for Germany's win earlier to send the host nation erupting at open-air parties across the land.
Klinsmann said: 'We played well tactically, covered the empty spaces well. The entire team are all there for each other. For us coaches its a pleasure to see.'
And he believed they could match the free-flowing Argentinians. 'We're fit, we can keep up this high pace - and we know that we can keep up with a side like Argentina, who are very fast.'
Sweden were down to ten men for almost an hour after defender Teddy Lucic was sent off by Brazilian referee Carlos Simon for a second yellow card when he impeded Miroslav Klose on 34 minutes.
Then Henrik Larsson missed a chance to get Sweden back into the game when he shot over from a 53rd minute penalty. Relentless German attacking could have yielded four more goals in the first half but for some fine goalkeeping by Andreas Isaksson.
In Leipzig, Rodriguez's 98th-minute winner was a massive relief as his side struggled for much of the game against the disciplined Mexicans in the 2006 World Cup's first extra-time game, which saw Mexico crash out in the round of 16 for the fourth time in a row.
Argentina fell behind for the first time at this year's cup when Mexico's captain Rafael Marquez struck on a corner kick after six minutes.
Four minutes later Hernan Crespo pressured Mexico's Jared Borgetti into deflecting the ball into his own net on a corner, and the two sides stayed knotted at 1-1.
Argentina substitute Lionel Messi found the net in the dying minutes of regular time, but the teenager's effort was disallowed for offside.
Mexico, who have reached the quarterfinals only during the two World Cups played on home soil, was left lamenting missed chances.
'We had chances, but we couldn't finish,' Mexico's dejected captain Marquez said. 'We played our hearts out, and now the whole country will be sad.'
Up in the VIP stand, 1986 World Cup hero Diego Maradona at one point could not bear watching, and ducked behind the seat in front of him. Later he tried to relax by smoking a cigar. Finally, he partied.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur