LEIPZIG, Germany, June 29 (Reuters) - Captain Michael
Ballack scored with a blistering free kick in extra time to lead
10-man Germany to a 4-3 win over Mexico and claim third place in
the Confederations Cup on Wednesday.
Ballack's shot from just outside the box curled over the
wall and beyond Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez seven minutes
into extra time, giving Germany victory after Mexico had
equalised three times in the opening 90 minutes.
Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Robert Huth also
scored for Germany. Jared Borgetti scored with two headers and
Jose Fonseca got the other for Mexico, who were playing extra
time for the second time in four days.
Third place gave Germany, who lost striker Mike Hanke to a
red card nine minutes into the second half, some consolation
after losing 3-2 in the semi-finals to world champions and
eventual tournament winners Brazil.
Brazil beat Argentina 4-1 in the final later on Wednesday.
'The way the crowd carried the team after Hanke was sent off
was just sensational,' said Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann.
'You could see the way everyone was going all out for each
other with every ounce of energy. Mexico are number six in the
world and we had a lot of respect for them.'
Germany, who will be hosting next year's World Cup, got off
to a slow start but improved after Hanke hit the crossbar midway
through the half.
Sebastian Deisler in midfield and right back Andreas Hinkel
repeatedly tore through the left side of Mexico's defence before
Podolski broke the deadlock in the 37th minute.
Teed up by Schweinsteiger, the 20-year-old's superb shot
from the left flew into the far corner of the net, beyond the
reach of a diving Sanchez.
Mexico levelled just three minutes later after Torsten
Frings carelessly lost the ball in midfield to Zinha, who set up
Fonseca for a low shot past keeper Oliver Kahn.
Schweinsteiger restored Germany's lead within a minute,
tapping in at the far post after a cross from Hinkel, only for
his team to go a man down after the break.
Hanke was red-carded for clattering into Carlos Salcido
after the defender had cleared the ball and Mexico soon
equalised -- Borgetti beating centre back Per Mertesacker to a
cross from Luis Perez.
Despite the setbacks, Huth blasted home Germany's third from
close range off a corner from Schweinsteiger in the 79th minute.
Germany's defence was caught napping again five minutes from
time when Borgetti headed Mexico's third, but Ballack's
sweetly-struck free kick in extra time sealed the victory for
the host nation.
Ballack, who grew up in a small town just south of Leipzig,
was named Man of the Match.
'This was a great win and should give us an important boost
for the months ahead,' said Ballack.