The German soccer team was spared from what could have been an embarrassing draw with the mostly amateur Faroe Islanders. But in the last minutes of the European Championship qualifier Germany pulled out a 2-0 victory.
Germany's Fredi Bobic helps rescue Germany from a humiliating draw in the last minutes.
It came down to the final seconds. Would powerhouse Germany be spared an embarrassing draw with the modest Faroe Islands team? The three-time world champions needed a win in Wednesday night’s 2004 European Championship qualifier match in the north Atlantic to hold on to their top seat in Group Five.
But the goals remained elusive until the 89th minute when substitute striker Miroslav Klose pulled his team into the lead with one minute left on the clock. Then striker Fredi Bobic doubled the advantage two minutes into extended time, saving the German team from humiliation.
A Close Call
On paper though, it should have been an easy win. Germany was given 8-1 and 10-2 odds against the Faroe Islands team, a group of amateur players which has yet to make it beyond qualifier matches. But the Faroese gave it their all, and with the home-team advantage and a jam-packed Torshavn stadium, the Germans struggled to overcome the islanders defense.
Wednesday’s match was not the first time Germany’s supposedly strong national team failed to dominate a supposedly lesser opponent. After the disappointing 1-1 draw with Scotland last Saturday, German team coach Rudi Völler was just relieved to come out a winner.
A Sigh of Relief
"I am very happy. The match was as problematic as I expected," Völler told reporters after the game. "We could not score, but I knew it was just a question of time."
Völler added that he couldn’t reproach his players: "It’s hard to shine against opponents who concentrate on defending."
The German coach praised the Faroese goalie Jakup Mikkelsen for effectively thwarting the opponent’s goal attempts: "The way he played, he could play in the Bundesliga or in any league in the world."
Playing with heart
"We played with our hearts and showed the world, that we can keep up with the best," the Faroe coach Henrik Larsen said. "Unfortunately we lost in the last minute. But I am very pleased with my team."
That’s something German fans can’t say for their team. The near-draw with the soccer minnows coupled with the draw against Scotland is almost too much for a nation expected to always be a soccer powerhouse. The top-selling daily Bild newspaper on Thursday called the team’s performance "shameful" and referred to the 2-0 victory as Germany’s "luckiest win ever."
Franz Beckenbauer, former World Cup winning coach and player, expressed his doubts about the team after watching them scrape by. "We are back to where we were before the World Cup," he said reminding viewers of Germany’s struggle to qualify for last year’s final.
Völler, for his part, was cautiously optimistic. "We are in a good position now but we haven’t won the qualification (group) yet. If we are to win, we have to play better than we have so far," he said looking ahead at the match against Iceland.