After starting the tournament strong by winning its first two matches, Germany wanted to keep the momentum going by also emerging victorious from its third group round contest against Ecuador. The World Cup host nation managed to do just that as the Germans downed the South Americans 3-0 in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon.
Although both sides had already secured their spots in the next stage, German coach Jürgen Klinsmann had promised no quarter for his opponent and no relaxing for his side. He also chose to play German captain Michael Ballack despite the danger of picking up a second yellow card that could have disqualified him from the next match.
The strategy worked without a hitch as the Germans dominated the entire contest after an early challenge in the opening minutes. The first shot on goal came from the South Americans and it looked liked Ecuador wasn't simply going to coast to its knock-out stage spot. But German keeper Jens Lehmann had it easily and he was never seriously challenged throughout the rest of the game.
"We definitely wanted to be first in the group," said German striker Miroslav Klose, who remained cautious about how far his team could go. "We'll have to see. We've reached the minimum goal. It now starts from zero and will go match by match."
Germany quickly put their stamp on the proceedings after an early goal in the fourth minute from Klose. In what looked like a giant pinball machine, several German players near the penalty area booted the ball around. Per Mertesacker popped it high to Bastian Schweinsteiger, setting up Klose who needed no invitation to finish things off.
It wasn't as elegant as one German TV announcer said it all was. But it was determined and showed the Germans had a real drive toward the goal, as they all came forward to fight for the ball. After that, the Ecuadorians couldn't keep up with the pace.
Germans keep up the pressure
Philipp Lahm came down the side with a dangerous cross in the 19th minute, but Bernd Schneider, who otherwise had a great match, shot over the goal. That poor finishing plagued the Germans until just before halftime.
Just two minutes before the break, Ballack looped the ball over a few defenders and Klose controlled it with his hip before beating a defender and the goalie. After that, all he had to do was tap it in for the 2-0.
In the second half, the Germans keep up the pressure but Ecuador's Edwin Tenorio tried a distance shot that Lehmann had to plop over the crossbar in the 49th minute. But there was no other real threat from the South Americans.
And then in the 57th min the Germans sealed it with a beautiful counter attack. After the ball bounced out of the German penalty area, Schneider slotted a perfect pass to Podolski, who after having problems finishing earlier, smashed it pass the keeper.
"We're very happy about it. The players should enjoy it for a moment. Weve gained a lot of self confidence," said Klinsmann after the match. "But now come the hard ones. We now we can't make any mistakes now like we did in the first couple of matches."
The first hurdle will be likely Sweden or England, who play later on Tuesday evening to decide Group B. Both teams have been far more toothless in the first round than many expected they would be, but that could all change when going up against Germany in a do-or-die situation. And the German defense remains the biggest weak point of Klinsmann's squad.