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Germany opens World Cup with a 4-2 win over Costa Rica

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ What a start!

Germany kicked off the World Cup by beating Costa Rica 4-2 on Friday to make it the highest scoring opener in competition history.

The host nation's performance could inspire the team all the way as it looks to add a fourth World Cup title.

Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann said he was delighted for the fans who saw six goals in the opening game, ``but we would have preferred not to have given any away.''

``We wanted to play well and get the fans involved. We were a little bit nervous. We made some mistakes, but they happen,'' Klinsmann said. ``We can draw a lot of positives from this game. We are happy to have our first three points.

``If the players want to go out tonight and have a beer, they can do it.''

Klinsmann was eager for his team to have a good start, especially since it had to play without captain Michael Ballack.

Ballack said he had recovered from a right calf injury, but doctors decided it was too early and risky to have him play.

In his absence, striker Miroslav Klose rose to the occasion of his 28th birthday and scored two goals.

``That's how I imagined this day more or less,'' Klose said. ``Every opener is difficult and we are pleased that we won. The goals we conceded were our own fault. We must recover better after losing possession.''

Klose scored three goals in Germany's opener in 2002, an 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia, but that wasn't the opening match. Germany then went on to reach the final.

Paulo Wanchope also scored two for Costa Rica, while Philipp Lahm and Torsten Frings added the others for Germany.

Lahm, a defender still wearing a special brace after surgery on his left elbow three weeks ago, curved a shot from the edge of the box in the sixth minute to put Germany ahead.

Lahm cut in from the left and got the space he needed when Luis Marin slipped, leaving Lahm plenty of time to aim his shot into upper corner.

``We can't keep conceding so many goals,'' Lahm said. ``I was lucky to hit the ball just right on my goal. Ballack can now heal in peace.''

Ballack said he badly wanted to play but that Klinsmann had to talk him out of it.

``We were of different opinions, he had to stop me (from playing),'' Ballack said. ``I am really pleased by the way the team did it. It's always difficult in the opening match. We scored two sensational goals, four goals, that's always strong.''

Klinsmann told Ballack he could understand his desire to play, ``but I also told him, 'what if something happens to you? What will then go on in the nation?'''

Germany piled on the pressure after Lahm's goal and Bernd Schneider fired high from close range, but Costa Rica stunned the hosts in the 12th when Wanchope beat the German offside trap and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

Germany has well-documented problems in its young and inexperienced defense and its shortcomings were exposed again. While most of Germany's back line was signaling offside with their raised arms, Arne Friedrich was caught behind Wanchope.

It didn't take Germany long to recover.

Schneider broke through on the right in the 17th minute and passed the ball to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who sent a crisp pass to the far post for Klose to knock in.

In the 61st, Klose's header was saved by goalkeeper Jose Porras, but the Bundesliga's leading scorer fired the rebound into the roof of the net.

The Germans couldn't relax, however, after Wanchope's second in the 73rd.

He again beat the offside trap when a through pass caught Germany central defenders Per Mertesacker and Christoph Metzelder off guard. Wanchope was suddenly alone and shrugged off a late challenge by Friedrich to beat Lehmann for the second time.

But Frings settled the issue when he drilled a spectacular, swerving shot from more than 25 meters (yards).

The capacity crowd of 66,000 gave the team a standing ovation.
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