German hot-shots silence critics
Miroslav Klose (AFP)
Durban - Germany forwards Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose silenced their critics in style on Sunday by hitting the back of the net in Sunday's 4-0 win over 10-man Australia at the World Cup.
Between them, Klose, the top scorer at the last World Cup, and Podolski, voted the best young player at Germany 2006, scored just five goals in last season's German league.
But both German hot-shots lived up to their reputations as proven goalscorers as Joachim Loew's side began their quest for a fourth World Cup title by putting the Socceroos to the sword in Durban.
Klose's goal was his 11th at World Cup finals and he is the only player in South Africa who can realistically overtake Ronaldo's record of 15 goals in all finals.
Having scored five goals - all with his head - at the 2002 World Cup finals, when Germany lost to Brazil in the final, and five again in Germany four years ago, the Polish-born striker has now been on the scoresheet at each of the last three finals.
He spent last season warming the bench at Bayern Munich, while Podolski had an unremarkable season at mid-table Cologne.
But the pair answered their critics as they led the attack in a youthful Germany side with an average age of just over 25.
As an attacking midfielder, Podolski has played consistently well for Germany since the last World Cup and has made the national side's left-wing berth his own, while Loew's faith in Klose was repaid with interest.
Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer could only get a glove to Podolski's fierce shot on eight minutes which flew into the back of the net to claim his 39th goal on his 74th appearance.
There had been calls in the German press to drop Bayern Munich's Klose, 32, as Germany's lone striker, but the veteran's 26th minute header ended the debate.
He missed an absolute sitter just moments before when Podolski, 25, set him up right in front of goal, but he overstretched and howled in rage at missing his shot, but made no mistake seconds later.
It was Klose's first goal in the white shirt of Germany since hitting the winner in Moscow last October which booked his side's World Cup berth and was his 49th goal in his 97th appearance for his country.
He is now third among Germany's top goalscorers, but needs 20 more goals to beat Gerd Mueller's record of 68 from the 1970s.
Klose could easily have scored more as he was denied by Schwarzer from close range before he was replaced by Cacau, who along with Thomas Mueller completed the rout.