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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 12 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
May 31, 2006

Germany 'lucky' to have experienced Lehmann

LEVERKUSEN, May 31 (Reuters) - Germany were grateful they had Jens Lehmann after the Arsenal goalkeeper kept out a half dozen chances from Japanese players in Tuesday's World Cup warm-up.

Lehmann's superb reflex saves against Hidetoshi Nakata, Atsushi Yanagisawa and Naohiro Takahara helped Germany come away with a 2-2 draw in his first full match as number one goalie ahead of Bayern Munich's Oliver Kahn.

"We let Japan have too many chances," Klinsmann said. "Jens played an excellent match. Thanks to him we came out of this with a draw. He played a superior match. All in all he's taken on a very important role."

"He has an incredible amount of experience that he brings with him and he can read the match extremely well," he added. "We're fortunate he's here and we're all happy he's here."

Klinsmann had gone out on a limb by picking Lehmann over Kahn, who had an excellent World Cup four years ago and was largely responsible for Germany's advance to the 2002 final against Brazil.

Kahn also had a powerful lobby behind him with Bayern Munich bosses, and sections of the media clearly in his corner while Lehmann was in London and largely out of sight until Arsenal advanced through the Champions League.

German television networks interrupted their programming to announce the news bulletin that Klinsmann had picked Lehmann over Kahn two months ago -- probably his biggest decision in two years.

"We had some lapses in concentration," Lehmann said after giving up two second-half Takahara goals before Germany scored twice to equalise. "It was clear that we couldn't go all out for 90 minutes.

"I think that's relatively normal at this point."

Lehmann clearly savoured his first full match of the post-Kahn error -- even if it may be short-lived should Germany have an early exit and Klinsmann were to leave. Several of those mooted as Klinsmann successors have said they prefer Kahn.

Lehmann added he was not angry at being left alone so often by his defence.

"No, that's my job as goalkeeper," he said. "I think we're going to do that better in the next match. It's sometimes educational for the team when that happens like that. You can see what you need to work on."