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FOOTBALL

Schweinsteiger inspires German win

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Farewell in arms. Figo (left) and Kahn share a moment at the final whistle.

SPECIAL REPORT

STUTTGART, Germany -- Hosts Germany rounded off their World Cup with an emphatic 3-1 win over Portugal in the third place playoff match in Stuttgart on Saturday.

Two resounding second half strikes by Bastian Schweinsteiger either side of an own goal by Portuguese defender Petit sealed the victory.

Luis Figo, left out of the starting lineup by Luiz Felipe Scolari, set up Nuno Gomes for a late consolation goal.

Victory rounded off a memorable month for Germany and their coach Juergen Klinsmann.

"It is unbelievable what this team has achieved. Every one of them has worked so hard, I just can't find words for it," Klinsmann said at the final whistle.

He said he needed time to come to a decision about his future.

"So much has happened in last few weeks and I haven't taken it all on board yet. Give me a few days."

After a goalless first half, with Germany have marginally the better of the play, Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger opened the scoring in the 56th minute with a long-range effort that seemed to change direction in mid-air and fly in past the outstretched hands of Ricardo.

Just five minutes later Portuguese substitute Petit deflected a Schweinsteiger freekick past his own goalkeeper.

Petit was at fault again for the third, allowing 21-year-old Schweinsteiger the space to cut inside and round off the German scoring with a stinging drive that this time left Ricardo with no chance.

Figo, left to stew on the bench after a reported row with Scolari, finally came on for the closing moments in what is likely to be his final international and did not disappoint.

Trademark run

A trademark run and pinpoint cross from the right left Gomes to score with a diving header.

The 33-year-old Figo was winning his 127th cap for Portugal and at the final whistle was in tears after 15 years of international service came to an end.

A night of emotion and farewells had begun with a return for Oliver Kahn in the German goal after number one Jens Lehmann agreed to make way for his arch- rival.

The 37-year-old Kahn, in what turned out to be his final appearance for Germany, had to save smartly from Pauleta in the 15th minute.

His Portuguese counterpart Ricardo was kept the busier during the first half, keeping out a Lukas Podolski drive and tipping over a clever shot from central defender Sebastian Kehl.

After the break Pauleta wasted another opportunity when he shot weakly at Kahn with Cristiano Ronaldo calling for a pass.

Soon afterwards Schweinsteiger took the match by the scruff of the neck with his opener and within five minutes the unfortunate Petit had given the home side an unassailable lead.

With the victory all but complete Germany striker Miroslav Klose, the tournament's leading scorer with five goals, was substituted in the 71st minute without adding to his tally.

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