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Germany Finishes Third at World Cup in South Africa

  • Sonny Young

Germany has defeated Uruguay, three-two, to clinch third place at the World Cup football tournament in South Africa.

On a rainy evening in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, Germany and Uruguay played an entertaining, exciting match, with the game-winning goal coming in the 82nd minute from midfielder Sami Khedira. He scored with a header, after the Uruguay defense failed to clear a corner kick from Germany's Mesut Oezil.

Uruguay's star striker Diego Forlan came close to sending the game into extra time with the final kick of the match. But, his free kick hit the crossbar. Earlier, in the 51st minute, Forlan gave his team a two-one lead with his fifth goal of the tournament. Five minutes later, defender Marcell Jansen equalized for Germany with a header.

The teams went into halftime tied at one-all. Germany's Thomas Mueller opened the scoring in the 19th minute. Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera stopped a swerving shot by Bastian Schweinsteiger, but Mueller was there to collect the rebound and knock the ball home. It was also the fifth goal of the tournament for the 20-year-old Mueller, who was named Man of the Match and is the favorite to win the World Cup's Best Young Player award. Edinson Cavani equalized for Uruguay in the 28th minute.

Mueller and Forlan are now tied for the World Cup scoring lead with David Villa of Spain and Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands, who will play against each other in Sunday's World Cup final in Johannesburg.

Between them, Germany and Uruguay have won five World Cup titles. The Germans are three-time champions, and this marks the second consecutive World Cup that they have placed third. Uruguay goes home after its best World Cup performance in 40 years. The South American squad, which won the inaugural tournament in 1930 and then again in 1950, also finished fourth at the 1970 tournament in Mexico.

More than 36,000 fans attended the match at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth. The venue staged eight World Cup matches and is named after South Africa's former President, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday on July 18. Mr. Mandela has kept a low profile during this World Cup.

There was speculation he would attend the opening ceremony June 11, but any such plans were scrapped after the death of his 13-year-old great-granddaughter, Zenani, in a car crash. Because of his age and fragile health, it is doubtful Mr. Mandela will attend Sunday's closing ceremony in Johannesburg, but top football officials are holding out hope - among them FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"If he can come to the stadium, it will be good. If he can stay the whole competition, the whole final, I do not know," he said. "But if he's there, naturally he has had this World Cup trophy in his hands - when he was in Zurich in 2004. And it would be a wonderful moment for him, for football and for Africa."

At least 15 African heads of state, including Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, are expected to join South African President Jacob Zuma at Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands and the preceding closing ceremony at Soccer City Stadium.