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Klinsmann smiling again after Germany thrash US

Written by: Staff
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DORTMUND, Germany, Mar 23 (Reuters) Germany's four-goal second half onslaught against an outclassed United States team had coach Juergen Klinsmann smiling again yesterday.

Under intense pressure to deliver a victory following a humbling 4-1 loss to Italy three weeks ago, the German players returned to the pitch after a goalless first half and pounded an under-strength US team to secure a comfortable 4-1 win.

''At halftime I told my team that we really had to put the pressure on the Americans,'' Klinsmann told reporters. ''This was a nice result and it was actually fun watching my team play.'' Klinsmann brushed aside questions about whether the intense pressure of coaching Germany as the country prepares to host this year's World Cup was getting to him.

He has been criticised for his tactics and commitment in recent weeks and leading German soccer figures like Franz Beckenbauer have questioned whether his team have what it takes to go far in the month-long tournament that begins on June 9.

''I am still filled with the same joy and enthusiasm that I had when I took this job,'' Klinsmann said. ''We can win the World Cup. That is our goal, but we'll take it one step at a time.'' In the first half, Germany struggled against a US side missing most of its top European-based players and Klinsmann's team were whistled off the field.

But Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger slotted in an arching free kick at the start of the second half, giving the Germans a shot of confidence and they never looked back.

Strikers Oliver Neuville and Miroslav Klose followed up with deft goals of their own before captain Michael Ballack headed home a Klose cross to finish off a team that pushed them all the way in the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals.

A lucky long-range shot from Steve Cherundolo gave the US a late consolation goal but did not dampen the celebrations.

''The relief is huge,'' said Germany defender Christoph Metzelder. ''There was enormous pressure. The team showed good determination.'' Reuters DH VP0535

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