Ragged Sweden outclassed by Germany

Sweden's World Cup dream is over. The yellow-and-blues crashed out of the World Cup in Munich on Saturday after two goals and a sending off in the first half against hosts Germany proved too great a hurdle to overcome.

Germany got off to the perfect start with Lukas Podolski scoring twice in the first 12 minutes – making it three goals in his last two outings – as Sweden’s defence fell apart.

Defender Teddy Lucic was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 34th minute giving Sweden a mountain to climb.

Henrik Larsson had the best chance to get his team back in the match but missed a penalty at the beginning of the second half, blazing over.

It was a fourth straight World Cup win for Germany who are now just two games away from matching manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s target of reaching the final in Berlin on July 9th.

Germany will face the winner of the Argentina v Mexico match in next Friday’s quarter-final in Berlin.

For Sweden it was more second-round disappointment – they were knocked out of the 2002 World Cup by Senegal at the same stage.

Sweden manager Lars Lagerbäck started with three strikers, including the returning Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the bold move backfired as Germany struck early.

With just four minutes gone Miroslav Klose surged through on goal. Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson stopped him in his tracks but the ball fell kindly to Podolski and his shot went in off the hapless Lucic.

It was Podolski’s second goal in a row and the third was not long in coming.

In the 12th minute Podolski, who will play on the same turf for Bayern Munich next season, accepted a pass from Klose and curled a left-footed shot in for 2-0.

German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had hardly made a save in his first three matches but was called into action to stop a smart turn and shot by Ibrahimovic.

Eight minutes into the second half Sweden were then handed a lifeline when Larsson was felled by Christoph Metzelder in the penalty area.

But Larsson, winning his 93rd cap, hammered his spot-kick over the crossbar to the dismay of the Sweden fans.

Germany captain Michael Ballack then saw a fantastic drive tipped onto the post.

The new Chelsea man was shooting at will and could have had a hat-trick but he was left still searching for his first goal at these finals.

Sweden created chances but with their numerical disadvantage they never looked like overturning a buoyant Germany.

The home fans left the turnstiles in high spirits as their team continue to ride the World Cup wave.

The Local/AFP