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FOOTBALL

Lehmann saves put Germany in semis

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Lehmann goes the right way to keep out Ayala's penalty attempt.

BERLIN, Germany -- German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved two penalties in the shootout as the host nation reached the World Cup semifinals at the expense of Argentina after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes in Berlin.

Roberto Ayala, who had put Argentina ahead in the 49th minute, failed with the second kick in the shootout.

With the Germans on target with their first four, it was all over when Lehmann kept out Esteban Cambiasso's effort, giving Germany a 4-2 triumph on spot-kicks.

There were ugly scenes after the shootout with players jostling each other on the pitch.

In the semifinals Germany will face Italy, who embarrassed them 4-1 in a friendly earlier this year.

The Italians beat Ukraine 3-0 in Hamburg.

"It was very exciting for us on the bench, it was like a Hitchcock movie," German coach Juergen Klinsmann told reporters. "We always believed that we'd come back (from a goal down in normal time).

"Penalties are always the toughest way to go out but we are very proud of this team. Five of them could still play for the under-21s and they're backed by fantastic older players."

Paying tribute to Lehmann, he added: "We have a very strong belief in Jens Lehmann when it comes to penalties -- he proved he had the sense of where the

Lehmann said: "To win the quarterfinal is fantastic for us. We had super shots (in the penalty shootout). And it's just expected that a German goalkeeper makes the saves."

Argentina coach Jose Pekerman announced that he would be quitting his post.

Pekerman, whose contract was up after this year's World Cup, said: "For sure I am not going to continue."

The 56-year-old , who took over the team in September of 2004 from Marcelo Bielsa, won three world youth titles for Argentina -- 1995, '97 and 2001 -- before moving up to the top job.

Commenting on the quarterfinal defeat he said: "It was a very exciting match. Argentina also played like favorites and gave of their best although they lost.

"The penalties were a consequence of a very even match. It's a shame for Argentina, who played very well today and in the whole championship."

Flying header

Ayala had put Argentina ahead with a flying header four minutes into the second half and the South Americans looked comfortable until goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri was forced off with an injury in the 71st minute.

Germany threw on Tim Borowski and his intervention led to the Germany equalizer with 10 minutes left of normal time.

Ballack crossed from wide on the left, Borowski nodded the ball on and Miroslav Klose beat replacement keeper Leo Franco with a well directed header.

Christoph Metzelder headed over from a corner and Luis Gonzalez smacked a shot well wide with the only clear chance in extra time.

Argentina, World Cup winners in 1978 and 1986, had controlled a cautious first half played under grey skies at the Olympiastadion.

The German supporters making up the vast majority of a 72,000 crowd were left whistling in frustration as Argentina kept possession.

Germany committed players forward just once and it almost paid off in the 16th minute.

Bastian Schweinsteiger passed to Bernd Schneider on the right and his well judged cross picked out Ballack. The Germany captain was unchallenged but his header flashed wide.

The game changed when Ayala arrived late to head in a Juan Roman Riquelme corner in the 49th minute, throwing himself in front of his marker Klose to make thumping contact.

No option

Germany were left with no option but to return to the direct style that is their hallmark under coach Juergen Klinsmann.

Ballack shot straight at a defender when the ball broke to him in the 64th minute in what was the best chance for the Germans before the injury to Abbondanzieri.

David Odonkor had come on after an hour and his pace caused Juan Pablo Sorin problems on the Argentina left, especially as the defender had to be cautious, having picked up a booking.

Germany kept pressing and were rewarded when Borowski's excellent header set up Klose to score his fifth goal of the tournament and send an absorbing game into extra time.

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