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29 June 1998 Montpellier - Stade de La Mosson
Germany Mexico
Germany snatched an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat when beating unlucky Mexico 2-1 in the Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier, and in doing so booked their place in yet another World Cup quarter-final. Two late goals from Jurgen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff saw the Germans through after Luis Hernandez had given the Mexicans a deserved 47th-minute lead. One has to go back to the competition in France 1938 for the last time that Germany failed to make it into the last eight, and history looked like repeating itself until the intervention of the deadly duo. This aging German side is by no means a great side, but nevertheless it is a GERMAN side and that always means professionalism, commitment and a never-say-die attitude. Having failed to find any real consistency as yet, they now will play the winners of Romania and Croatia in what is certain to be another very tight, unpredictable contest in Lyon on Saturday 4 July at 9.00pm. The match kicked off in temperatures approaching 100 degrees with the conditions more suited to the Mexicans, although traditionally the Central Americans are not great travellers. In a typically cautious opening by both sides there was very little goalmouth action as players attempted to wrest the early initiative collectively and individually. Koepke had to deal with the first shot on target after 16 minutes when Marcelino Bernal's speculative dipping volley from 40 yards almost embarrassed the German 'keeper who spilled the ball and was then lucky that Babbel was on hand to clear the rebound to safety. The Germans had struggled to find any semblance of rhythm, with Klinsmann and Bierhoff virtual spectators, however, the two combined well on 21 minutes, but Jorge Campos, Mexico's extrovert 'keeper, was quick off his line to dispel the danger. Garcio Aspe, the Mexican skipper, was hitting long diagonal balls in behind both wing-backs, in an attempt to turn the German defence and use the pace of Francisco Palencia, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Hernandez, but too many passes were going astray and the action was very much stop-start. Germany are at their most dangerous when finding width to deliver decent service for the two strikers, and on 29 minutes Klinsmann forced a simple save from Campos following Matthaeus' cross, before Bierhoff was presented with a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after 40 minutes. Thomas Haessler's surging run down the left resulted in a pinpoint cross to the far post, and the chance, which is normally food and drink to the big striker, went begging, as Bierhoff's six-yard header crashed off the underside of the crossbar before being hooked clear. At the other end Palencia then had his side's best chance of the first half when clear on goal, but the very right-footed striker chose to go for goal with his favoured foot when a left-foot shot across Koepke would have been the better option. Mexico had only beaten Germany on one previous occasion and their last meeting, in Monterrey in 1986, was won on penalties by the Germans. However, just two minutes into the second half the Latin Americans opened the scoring when Blanco played in Hernandez for his fourth goal of the tournament with a delightful lofted finish over Koepke. At this stage Germany appeared uncharacteristically rattled and the introduction of Mexican substitute Jesus Arellano, caused the defence further problems with his pace and directness. On 62 minutes Arellano's breathtaking run ended with Koepke pushing the ball onto his right-hand post as Matthaeus' attempted clearance very nearly found the bottom right-hand corner of his own net and from the rebound Blanco set up the unmarked Hernandez who screwed a shot straight at the 'keeper from eight yards. There was now a greater urgency to Berti Vogts' side as Bierhoff began to find more space in the Mexican defence and Andy Moeller, on as a second-half substitute for Joerg Heinrich, coaxed the side forward. Bierhoff first volleyed and then headed powerfully wide from Haessler's right-wing cross to send out a warning to Mexico. On 74 minutes Ulf Kirsten replaced Haessler in Vogts' last throw of the dice and just a minute later the Germans were unbelievably on level terms. Hamann's hopeful diagonal ball into the box was too long for Bierhoff and for once the Central Americans failed to clear, with Klinsmann perfectly placed to poach the equaliser. It was the skipper's third goal of the tournament and his 47th in 107 appearances for his country, only the legendary Gerd Muller has scored more. With Germany now in the ascendancy they appeared the most likely to snatch a winner with the extra-time Golden goal looming, and sure enough, with four minutes of normal time remaining, Oliver Bierhoff, who had threatened on a couple of earlier occasions, struck the vital blow. Kirsten swung a cross in towards the penalty spot and last season's top scorer in Serie A, arrived in front of his marker Raul Lara, to guide an accurate header beyond the helpless Campos. Mexico will look back on the chance that Hernandez missed just after the hour mark to make it 2-0, but the way the German juggernaut has rolled on whilst struggling to find top gear, one cannot help believing that somehow Berti Vogts' side would have still managed to rescue this extraordinary match.

(1-1) Klinsmann (75). The German skipper started the move by hooking a pass out to the right flank where Hamann took one touch before swinging in a cross towards Bierhoff, however, the ball cleared the big striker and ran through the legs of Lara to the feet of Klinsmann, who slotted home right-footed, high into Campos' net from six yards.

(0-1) Hernandez (47). Blanco worked his way along the edge of the German area before slipping a short pass into the blonde-haired striker, he took the ball in his stride and danced around the attempted tackle of defender Tarnat, before clipping home a delightful right-footed finish over Koepke and just inside his right-hand post from eight yards.

(2-1) Bierhoff (86). A sweeping move from left to right saw Tarnat's glorious cross-field ball pick out the substitute Kirsten on the right edge of the Mexican area, and his left-footed cross towards the penalty spot was met by the big striker, who got in front of his marker Lara, to steer a wonderful header into Campos' top left-hand corner, giving the 'keeper no chance from 12 yards.

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