PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil : If needed, Manuel Neuer can be a sweeper.Often abandoned by his blundering defense, the Germany goalkeeper had to turn to unorthodox methods to save Germany from a stunning defeat against underdog Algeria at the World Cup.
Neuer was beaten once but Algeria's goal came as extra time ran out, too late to threaten Monday's 2-1 victory that sent the Germans to the World Cup quarterfinals for the ninth straight time. "In the regular 90 minutes, we kept a blank sheet," Neuer said.
Only just, and only thanks to Neuer.The Bayern Munich keeper made some fine saves on the line but his rushes far out of the penalty area, clearing the ball with his feet and even his head, had the fans of the edge of their seats.
His risky exits, however, are nothing new."I haven't changed my style," Neuer said. "I often play like that in Bayern or the national team."
He hasn't always been successful, but against Algeria he made no wrong move. "Manuel was excellent, especially how he dealt with those long balls that were deep and dangerous," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "He cleared them all at the last second and that's his great contribution today."
Germany fans must have momentarily stopped breathing when Neuer ran out of the box to take over as the right back and foil Algeria's most dangerous forward, Islam Slimani, in the ninth minute.In the 28th, Neuer rushed out to clear before Sofiane Feghouli got to the ball. And in the 71st, he raced out to head away a dangerous ball in front of Slimani.
Then there was a stunning save against Feghouli in the 89th that could have been Algeria's ticket to the quarterfinals. But not with Neuer in, or even out, of goal.