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Germany Defeats Argentina on Penalty Kicks Advances to World Cup Semifinals


Host Germany has reached the semifinals of the World Cup football tournament by defeating Argentina in a penalty-kick shootout in Berlin.

After a scoreless first half, Argentina broke through in the 49th minute, as Roberto Ayala went high in the air to head in a corner kick from Juan Riquelme.

The German fans in the sell-out crowd of 72,000 then had to anxiously wait about half an hour before their team got the equalizer in the 80th minute. Captain Michael Ballack sent a free kick near the left sideline into the box that was headed from Tim Borowski across to Miroslav Klose, who headed it into the net. It was his fifth goal of this World Cup to lead all scorers.

The regulation 90 minutes ended at 1-1 and neither team scored in 30 minutes of extra time, sending the quarterfinal to a penalty kick shootout. Germany prevailed, 4-2.

The shootout did not have to go to a fifth round of kicks, as the Germans made all four of their attempts and their goalkeeper Jens Lehmann blocked two of Argentina's attempts.

German coach Juergen Klinsmann said he had confidence in his goalie for the shootout. "We have a strong belief in Jens Lehmann in penalties. As a former striker, I don't want to face him as a striker, and he proved that. He proved that he has a sense for where maybe the ball could go, and he almost saved the other two ones that went in. He was very close. But for the coach and the entire team on the sideline and everybody, it's a thrill. It's like a Hitchcock movie. And obviously you're the happiest person in the world when you win it, and you are the saddest person if you lose it," he said.

Argentine coach Jose Pekermann, through an interpreter, said he thought both teams played a great match. "It was a very emotional game. It was worthy of a quarterfinal and Argentina played like a favorite, played well, even though we lost," he said.

Klinsmann said that it's hard to decide a match of this caliber in a shootout. "Obviously if you go all the way to the penalty shootout, it's the toughest for the team that loses, you know, to accept that loss, but we're very, very proud of our team," he said.

The Germans reached the semifinals of the last World Cup four years ago. They have equaled that on home soil, and after getting past a strong Argentine team, they now have their fans seriously dreaming of the title.

Germany will face Italy in semi-finals.