Germany maintained their proud record of having never failed to qualify from the group stages at a World Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over Ghana and booked a round of 16 berth as Group D winners in Johannesburg on Thursday .
Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Oezil scored the matchwinner in the 60th minute in a fast and furious match at Soccer City Stadium to give Germany their second win and six points to top the group.
Despite the loss, Ghana also made it to the round of 16 on goal difference though they have the same points four -- with Australia who beat Serbia 2-1 in Nelspruit in another Group D match. Ghana have a goal difference of zero as against minus three of Australia.
It was a sweet revival of fortunes for Joachim Loew's side after their shock 0-1 defeat against Serbia in their last match which also saw the ejection of star striker Miroslav Klose on his second booking.
Germany now play England Group C runners-up in the round of 16 in Bloemfontein on June 27 while Ghana take on United States of America the earlier day in Rustenburg.
The match was also registered another first in World Cup history with two half-brothers facing each other for the first time. Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana faced his brother Jerome in the Germany side. Kevin was roundly booed by German fans as his tackle in the FA Cup final match between Portsmouth and Chelsea led to Germany captain Michael Ballack's ruling out of the World Cup.
The first 45 minutes was played at a frantic pace with both sides having shots galore at the goal though Germany had more ball possession and scoring chances. The first chance came in Ghana's way in the 20th minute when Kwadwo Asamoah broke down the left of the German box and cut back to striker Asamoah Gyan whose misdirected shot was blocked by a defender.
In the 25th minute, Andre Ayew found himself unmarked inside the German box but the young midfielder was one touch too many and it was cleared by a defender.
Next minute, Germany got the first clear chance of the match as Mesut Oezil was onside down the right side off a fine pass from his captain Philip Lahm but he shot straight to the Ghana keeper Richard Kingson. Immediately, Asamoah Gyan's header off a corner was cleared by Lahm at the goal-line. At the half-hour mark, striker Cacau, who came in for Miroslav Klose, got a free shot off a pass from Sami Khedira but was off the target.
In the 41st minute, Bastian Schweinsteiger's free-kick slipped through the Ghana defence and looked like heading towards the goal but keeper Kingson was able to get down in time to push it off to safety. Six minutes into the second session, midfielder Anthony Annan shot straight to the onrushing German keeper Manuel Neuer when he was clear inside the box.
Oezil struck at the hour mark with his powerful and dipping left footer from the top centre of the box crashing into the net with the keeper nowhere able to reach the ball.Immedaitely after, Ghana could have equalised and Kevin Prince Boateng had a clear header near the right post but headed out for a corner under pressure from a defender.
Five minutes later, German captain Lahm could lay his foot on the path of Ayew's shot from inside the box to deflect it for a corner. PTI