COMMENT: Joachim Low's side appeared to be running out of ideas before the veteran frontman arrived to score a crucial leveller in Group GBy Robin Bairner at Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Less than a fortnight after celebrating his 36th birthday, Miroslav Klose reached an altogether more lasting milestone when he stole home at the back post to steer home a near-post flick from a corner kick.
By levelling Germany’s second World Cup group stage match with Ghana at 2-2, the venerable striker struck his 15th all-time goal in the final stages of football’s blue ribbon tournament and hence equalled the record, set by Brazil’s Ronaldo.
It was the kind of scrappy goal that Klose has made a career from. When those around him were caught flat-footed, the Poland-born striker was alive in the six-yard box to convert what was the simplest of chances.
It was a goal of pure instinct; pure Klose.
Just as Filippo Inzaghi was able to prolong his career owing to his wherewithal near the goal, Klose has done likewise, and in striking Germany level he proved that there remains a place for him amongst the thoughts of head coach Joachim Low.
Thomas Muller’s scoring record may have caught the headlines lately, but though his is formidable – he had, after all, scored in five successive World Cup finals matches heading into the clash at Castelao – he is not a thoroughbred forward in the manner of his veteran colleague.
Before introducing Klose midway through the second period as a response to Asamoah Gyan putting Ghana ahead (and thereby tying Roger Milla’s record as the record scorer from Africa), Low had run the full gambit of systems.
Germany first tried a 4-2-3-1 but promptly switched to 4-4-2 to mirror their opponents. Having found both ineffective, at half-time there was a further reshuffle to 4-3-3, but though it was Mario Gotze who put them into the lead with what might kindly be called a header, it was Klose’s instinct that would prove telling at the death.
Perhaps the greatest surprise about his 22-minute cameo was that he wasted an opportunity to win the match with 60 seconds remaining.
Certainly, one of the favourites for the World Cup were pushed hard by the side who finished 2010 as sore quarter-final losers in South Africa.
Prior to the game, Ghana, who would be vocally backed by the vast majority of neutrals, had promised to go out to leave everything on the field, and in this regard they certainly did not disappoint, with Sulley Muntari, Andre Ayew and, in the second half, Gyan ebullient.
For Germany, struggling in their second World Cup match is nothing new, however unwelcome. Only once since the reunification of the country have they won what is a known pitfall for the side.
Now they face the familiar task of earning a positive result in their final match against the USA, though with Klose in tow, there is always the likelihood of a goal.