15.11.2006: Germany 1 – 1 Cyprus; Germany takes lead in Group D

German Football
By German Football November 16, 2006 08:57

15.11.2006: Germany 1 – 1 Cyprus; Germany takes lead in Group D

Cyprus held Germany to a 1-1 draw in a Euro 2008 Group D qualifier in Nicosia.

Germany started carefully as they sized up their plucky opponents in what proved to be a tricky fixture. The Cypriots played aggressively from the kick-off and tried continuously to get their forwards behind the German defence.

Germany took the lead after 15 minutes with a well-crafted move from Ballack, who was celebrating his 75th international appearance. Torsten Frings and Bastian Schweinsteiger looked to have made a mess of a short free kick but Ballack ran on to the misplaced pass, rounded one player and sent in a shot just inside the keeper’s right-hand post from 25-yards out, leaving the keeper clutching at air. The goal had looked likely to set the team on the way to a fourth win out of four in Group D, and a sixth in six games under Loew, including friendlies.

However, Cyprus’s efforts were rewarded with a goal close to half time (43rd min.) when Yiannakis Okkas hit a first-time volley on the edge of the area that flew past stand-in keeper Timo Hildebrand. The cross was supplied by Larisa’s Efstathios Aloneftis whose pace on the left wing proved a handful all night.

The start of the second half was held up when a spectator ran on to the field and stuffed the ball under his T-shirt. When it did begin, Cyprus attacked once again with conviction and were almost rewarded in the 50th minute. Clemens Fritz played a weak back pass to Hildebrand and his hurried clearance struck Constantinos Charalambides. The attacker looked likely to have a simple chance to put Cyprus ahead as he raced for the loose ball but Fritz was quick to get back and clear the ball.

Germany gradually improved towards the end with Ballack and substitute striker Mike Hanke both going close before Schweinsteiger was just wide with a point-blank strike a minute from time. However, their efforts were not enough to provide a clear winner for the match.

‘We weren’t precise enough and we weren’t fully concentrated,’ said Löw after the match. ‘But we can live with this result.’

Germany were forced to make three key changes with Arsenal’s goalkeeper Jens Lehmann pulling out with a heavy cold, Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski still injured, and Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Schneider missing with a muscle strain.

Germany still took the lead in Group D on goal difference after wins over Ireland, Slovakia and San Marino. After four games, Germany have 10 points and are level on points with fellow group heavyweights Czech Republic. Cyprus are fourth with four points behind Slovakia on six. Moreover, Cyprus managed to score only the second goal ever against Germany.

German Football
By German Football November 16, 2006 08:57
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