By a Staff Writer
Published — Sunday 2 June 2002
Last Update 2 June 2002 3:00 am
YOKOHAMA, 2 June — Germany crushed Saudi Arabia 8-0 to take the lead in Group E of the 2002 World Cup yesterday, while Denmark went to the top of Group A with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Uruguay. Ireland and Cameroon played to a 1-1 draw.
In Sapporo Dome, 42,000 fans were treated to a goal-scoring festival by the Germans, who scored four in the first half and then another four in the second half against the Saudis.
The man-of the-match was 24-year-old striker Miroslav Klose, who scored three headers and had one assist to lead the German attack.
“I’m happy that I’ve shown the world that I can take the pressure and score goals with the best of them — and not just in the Bundesliga,” said Klose, who was born in Poland and has both Polish and German citizenship.
Rudi Voeller’s team completely dominated from the start. Klose scored in the 20th, 25th and 70th minutes, while the other goals came from Michael Ballack (40th), Carsten Jancker (45th), Thomas Linke (73rd), Oliver Bierhoff (80th) and Bernd Schneider (90th).
“Of course it’s a great feeling to win like this, especially after how we played in the first half. We played attractive, attacking football from the get-go,” said Voeller, who captured the 1990 World Cup as a player but was making his finals debut as a coach.
“We didn’t leave a trace of doubt who would win this match.”
In the other Group E match in Niigata, Ireland overcame the absence of Roy Keane and a first-half deficit to wrest a 1-1 draw against African champions Cameroon. Matt Holland’s low drive in the 52nd minute cancelled out Cameroon’s 39th-minute opener from Patrick Mbomba in a match either side could have won.
Geremi should have made it 2-0 seconds before Holland’s goal while Robbie Keane fired against the right post from a distance with seven minutes left in front of a 42,000-strong crowd.
“Altogether I must admit that I am quite happy with the 1-1 result. We were under a lot of pressure in the second half,” said Cameroon’s German coach Winnie Schaefer.
Man-of-the-Match Holland said: “We had a lot of chances in the second half but just couldn’t get the winner. It was a crucial result today that we didn’t get beaten.”
There was plenty of turmoil in the Irish camp in the run-up with the well-documented firing of Manchester United superstar Roy Keane by coach Mick McCarthy last week after a huge row between the two.
McCarthy was understandably happy yesterday: “I’ve had the hardest week possible but coming into the game today was a blessed relief. It’s nice to be walking away without being beaten.”
In Ulsan, South Korea, Danish coach Morten Olsen watched his star Jon Dahl Tomasson strike twice for a 2-1 World Cup victory over Uruguay and then declared title holders France favorites in Group A.
Tomasson, who plays for UEFA Cup champions Feyenoord Rotterdam, struck on the tick of halftime and nodded the winner with seven minutes remaining.
Dario Rodriguez temporarily tied it up for the Uruguayans in the 47th minute with a spectacular volley.
Olsen, who played in Denmark’s 6-1 World Cup victory over the South Americans at their only previous World Cup meeting in 1986, said that even though France had been beaten by Senegal in the opening match, the French remained favourites to go through.
“They are a good side and I think that we are now playing for second place with Senegal,” he said.
Tomasson said he was very proud of his two goals: “It is always special to score goals and to do so in a World Cup match is great. I think we now have a good chance of going through and we will obviously be very disappointed if we are knocked out in the first round.”