FIFA World Cup - The End
Germany shrugged off the disappointment of their semi-defeat by Italy to claim third place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup by beating Portugal 3-1 in Stuttgart yesterday. Bastian Schweinsteiger enjoyed a night to remember in the hosts' farewell match at these finals, scoring twice in the second half as Germany finished the tournament with the bronze medal. Luis Figo, on his final appearance for Portugal, sent over a perfectly placed cross for Nuno Gomes to head past Oliver Kahn, denying the German goalkeeper one last clean sheet before he too bowed out of the international arena.
Portugal didn't do much wrong yesterday. Germany were very effective, particularly with their long-range efforts, and there wasn't much to do about that. There was nothing to choose between the teams in the first half, but in the second, Portugal let two goals in one after the other, the first from a swerving shot and the second when Petit deflected a free-kick. Germany's third goal was a beauty though! Portugal also had chances, but just couldn't put them away.
Fourth place feels a bit hollow and Portugal deserved a different scoreline. But I am proud of what the team has done and, at the end of the day, to finish fourth in a World Cup is good. The fact that Figo and Pauleta are both saying goodbye represents the end of an era, but we have to respect their decisions and congratulate them on their magnificent careers.