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Klose career culminates in great Germany Ghana game

| 22.06.2014

“Welcome to the club Klose,” tweeted Ronaldo, the only man who has managed to score as many times as the 36-year-old Germany striker at World Cup finals. Plaudits have come thick and fast for the veteran frontman after he poached an equalising goal in an absorbing Group G game against Ghana.

What this entire tournament in Brazil is about for Miroslav Klose, a 33/1 shot with Coral to be tournament top scorer, is equalling or breaking records. Gerd Muller’s long-standing tally of 68 as all-time German international leading marksman was surpassed by the Lazio attacker during the warm-up friendly demolition of Armenia.

Polish-born Klose now has 70 goals for Die Mannschaft, and that figure has a nice, round feel about it. He will be hungry to make it 71, however, and hold the most World Cup strikes record outright.

“I’m awfully happy for Klose,” said Germany boss Joachim Low. “It’s sensational for me to have this kind of player on the bench knowing they can make a decisive move.” Almost everything was sensational about this cut and thrust 2-2 draw with the Black Stars, mind.

Klose is not first-choice anymore for his country. It always looked likely that Low would start with Thomas Muller as a ‘false number nine’; see his hat-trick against Portugal to find out why. Yet, the young pretender and the veteran stager have the same knack of being a lethal penalty box presence.

As Low alluded to above, though, in tight games or matches where Germany are losing, what could be finer than bringing on an experienced striker that knows how to be in the right place at the right time? It’s that instinct which allowed Klose to prod home Benedikt Howedes’ knockdown from a Toni Kroos corner and rescue a point.

Following a goalless first half, hat-trick hero Muller turned provider for Mario Gotze, whose inelegant header put Germany in front. Low’s lead was short-lived, however, as Andre Ayew swiftly levelled for Ghana. The Marseille man capitalised on an enforced change at the break, getting in front of substitute marker Shkodran Mustafi to nod in Harrison Afful’s centre.

Two former Premier League players then combined to complete a Black Stars turnaround. Sulley Muntari’s through ball put Asamoah Gyan in the clear, but Klose had the last word by scoring with his first touch.

Ghana can take great pride in this draw, although it means they cannot top the group. They are now 6/1 outsiders to advance to the knockout stage, but if they are as relentless with their crossing against Portugal there will still be a chance of qualification, no matter how the Navigators get on against the USA.

Christian Atsu caught the eye doing such a job in 70 minutes. He will return to Chelsea as an industrious player, who is clearly not discouraged by failure to find teammates. If Jose Mourinho wants a wide option to feed Romelu Lukaku or the soon to be unveiled Diego Costa, then he need look no further than the Ghanaian.

Germany’s draw with the Black Stars, and despite a stoppage time win for Argentina over Iran, has actually seen the Europeans go second-favourites for the tournament at 7/2. Lionel Messi and company are a close third at 4/1.

Alejandro Sabella set up 4-3-3 to suit Lionel Messi. It may have taken more than 90 minutes to materialise, but some more magic from Argentina’s inspirational captain came to ensure they did just enough to win again. They may not have convinced in either victory, but the salient point is that the South Americans are beating the opposition put in front of them.

Messi is 9/2 to be World Cup top scorer behind joint-favourites Muller and Karim Benzema. Great credit must go to Carlos Queiroz to the way he set Iran up. The Princes of Persia was denied a point by a second sublime moment of the Brazil finals from Messi, and Ashkan Dejagah should certainly have had a penalty earlier in the second half.

It is still mathematically possible that Iran could qualify from Group F, but the prospect of them gracing the last 16 is a remote 6/1. Querioz would need to mastermind victory over Bosnia, Argentina beat Nigeria and a swing of two goals be entered into the bargain.

World Cup debutants Bosnia will be desperate to end their participation in the Brazil finals with a win after succumbing to a shock defeat to African champions Nigeria. Edin Dzeko had a first half effort wrongly ruled out for offside before Super Eagles stopper Vincent Enyeama saved twice from him. Peter Odemwingie netted Nigeria’s winner.

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.