I got my wish: the second half of tonight's Argentina-Germany match heated up, and how!
Argentina wasted no time in going ahead, with Roberto Ayala leaping into high into the air and laying out almost horizontally, a metre and a half off the ground, to hit a screaming header past a defenseless Jens Lehmann. 49th minute, 1-0 Argentina.
After that, Argentina seemed to give up on offence, while the now doubly-motivated Germans kicked their own attack into high gear. I am only surprised that it took them so long to equalise, with the magnificant Miroslav Klose heading it home in the 80th minute. The goal was Klose's fifth of the tournament, putting him two goals clear of Hernan Crespo and (of course) Ronaldo in the running for the Golden Shoe.
And then the unforgivable-yet-typical: a huge error by the referee. 88th minute: Maxi Rodriguez makes a brilliant run, penetrates the area almost to the baseline, and is brought down from behind by a German defender, causing me to leap to my feet screaming "PENALTY!". Alas, it was not to be, as the referee not only pointed the wrong way, but produced a yellow card and wrote Rodriguez's name in his book to boot. Apparently the hapless Rodriguez was thought to have dived, but the replay shows otherwise: the German defender applying a textbook tackle from behind that should have earned him a yellow card and a penalty for the Argentines. I guess I should not have been surprised, as the referee had already handed out three yellow cards, only one of them warranted.
The penalty shootout has just ended, with Germany coming out on top, 4-2. So by that I guess you know that regular time ended in a 1-1 draw, and neither of the two additional 15 minute periods could separate the two sides. You hate to see a match go to penalties, but I have to say that the result was fair here. Germany deserved to win, as they were the only team playing hard for the last 90 minutes of the match (as in, from the 50th minute through to the end of regulation, and then for thirty minutes of extra time). Argentina simply did not look a credible threat after they scored in the 48th minute. Sure, they deserved the penalty, and that probably would have won them the match, but it would have been a fluke, as Germany dominated the second half offensively.
Lehmann was spectacular in the shootout, stopping two penalties to net Germany their well-deserved win. 2002 Golden Ball winner Oliver Kahn was giving him instructions before the shootout, and those instructions must have been great. I just wish that Kahn could help his team out between the sticks instead of just on the sidelines, but I guess some things just are not to be.
But where the hell was Messi? Why did Pekerman (who I will now call "Peckerman" until the end of time) put Cruz in in the 79th minute for Crespo? Cruz, as Mauro's brother pointed out, is like the guy you put in the match if you are leading 3-0 and want to make him feel better about himself. But not when you are tied 1-1 with Germany and you are taking out your only decent forward because he is dog-tired. You go to Messi. Every. Damn. Time! What the hell?!