Germany defeats Ukraine 4-1 to make World Cup
Updated: Wednesday November 14, 2001 6:28 PM
DORTMUND, Germany (AP) -- Germany escaped the unthinkable -- no World Cup -- by scoring three early goals and routing Ukraine 4-1 on Wednesday to qualify for the 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan.
The two teams drew 1-1 in Kiev in the first leg of the playoff Saturday and the three-time champion went through 5-2 on aggregate.
As Germany reached its 15th World Cup finals in 15 tries, tiny Slovenia clinched it first-ever berth in the finals with a 1-1 draw at Romania, and Turkey will appear for the first time since 1954 after a 5-0 victory over Austria. Belgium grabbed the fourth spot up for grabs from Euro playoffs Wednesday, defeating the Czech Republic 1-0 in Prague to advance 2-0 on aggregate.
At Dortmund, midfielder Michael Ballack, striker Oliver Neuville and defender Marko Rehmer scored inside the first 15 minutes and Ballack added another early in the second half as Germany tore apart Ukraine's shaky defense and dominated the match.
"We were under great pressure," Ballack said. "Failing to qualify would have been a huge disappointment for the entire nation."
Germany has never failed to qualify for a World Cup.
"It's a great relief. It wasn't so simple," said coach Rudi Voeller. "I don't want to single out anyone; we were strong as a team."
In 10 years of independence, Ukraine has now come up short in three straight playoffs. It was ousted by Croatia before the 1998 World Cup in France and was beaten by Slovenia in the playoff for a place at Euro 2000.
Star striker Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan got Ukraine's only goal in the final minute of the match.
Germany got off to a dream start by going ahead in the fourth minute. Andrii Nesmachnyi's clumsy attempt to clear the ball bounced off Neuville, Bernd Schneider picked it up on the right flank and sent a good cross. Ballack, who also scored Germany's goal in Kiev, connected from 11 meters (yards) with a powerful header.
Just 11 minutes into the match, Germany was up 2-0. Schneider sent a corner from the right, Marko Rehmer's glancing header was parried by Maxim Levytsky but the Ukrainian goalkeeper could not hold onto the ball and Neuville pounced on it to score form close range. The Bayer Leverkusen striker had been suspended for the Kiev match.
Levytsky then did well to punch away a drive by Dietmar Hamman but the resulting corner produced Germany's third in the 15th.
Neuville took the corner, Levytsky terribly misjudged the flight of the ball to remain stranded away from the line and Rehmer again exploited the Ukrainian defenders' weakness in the air to head home.
Shevchenko threatened Oliver Kahn's goal for the first time in the 25th but his deflected shot went just wide. Ukraine never really recovered from the early shock and the Germans easily controlled the match.
Six minutes into the second half, Ballack used another Neuville cross to score his second of the evening before a delirious capacity crowd of 52,000 at the Westfalenstadion.
Ballack, a Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, led Germany with six goals in World Cup qualifying.
Shevchenko, who had an Europe-high nine goals in qualifying, got his 10th by using some slackness in the German defense to score in the final minute.
Germany once comfortably led its qualifying group but then lost 5-1 to England and drew 0-0 with Finland, both at home, to have to go to the playoff.
"We really played an excellent match. The atmosphere was so great, we couldn't lose," said substitute striker Oliver Bierhoff.
Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said the team had been under enormous pressure before the match.
"It's a great relief. We exploded today and showed what we are really capable of," Kahn said.
Franz Beckenbauer, who lifted the World Cup as captain in 1974 and coach in 1990, expressed relief after witnessing Germany's timely revival.
"I just refuse to imagine what would have happened if we had not qualified but thank God all those worries are behind us now," Beckenbauer said.
"It was a great team effort," he said. "We played extremely well, especially in the first quarter-hour."
It was a sad exit for Ukraine whose coach, Valery Lobanovsky, is now expected to quit to concentrate on his Dynamo Kiev job.
"We knew that the decision would fall here whatever happened in Kiev," said assistant Ukraine coach Leonid Buryak. "It was a totally different German side today. Their will and determination were simply unbelievable. After 30 minutes the game was over."
Germany 4 Ukraine 1 - final
First leg: 1-1
Scorers: Michael Ballack 4, 51, Oliver Neuville 11, Marko Rehmer 15
Halftime: 3-0; Attendance: 52,000
Germany-Oliver Kahn; Marko Rehmer (Frank Baumann, 87), Jens Nowotny, Thomas Linke; Bernd Schneider, Carsten Ramelow, Michael Ballack, Dietmar Hamann, Christian Ziege; Carsten Jancker (Oliver Bierhoff, 58), Oliver Neuville (Lars Ricken, 70).
Ukraine-Maxim Levytsky; Oleh Luzhnyi, Andrii Nesmachnyi (Serhiy Shyshchenko, 55), Olexander Holovko, Vladyslav Vashchuk; Viktor Skripnik, Henadiy Zubov, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Andrii Husin, 24), Dmytro Perfenov; Andriy Shevchenko, Andriy Vorobei (Serhiy Rebrov, 70).
Referee: Vitor Melo Pereira (Portugal)
Reuters contributed to this report.