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'Absolutely world class'

Neuer shines as sweeper-keeper

Manuel Neuer celebrated André Schürrle’s opening goal in the arms of Miroslav Klose but the outstanding German shot-stopper appeared to be mentally exhausted at the end of the game. Neuer played a key role in his team’s progress to the next round in front of 43,063 fans in Porto Alegre and was in large part responsible for ensuring Germany came through extra time in the Round of 16 tie with a win under their belts. After a chance to regain his breath Neuer was able to break into laughter.

He was unwilling to be over-critical after the tight encounter. “We kept a clean sheet for 90 minutes,” said Neuer but he did go on to demand a more ambitious approach up front in Friday’s quarter-final clash with France (6 pm CET). He was relaxed about his numerous forays outside his box and the associated risks. “I’ve not changed the way I play. I often play like that for Bayern and Germany. It was down to the wet pitch.”

Neuer saves the day

Neuer was a long way behind his team-mates as Germany trooped off at the half-time break. The Bayern keeper had to regain his breath - the 28-year-old experienced immense frustration in the opening 45 minutes. He was solid as a rock between the sticks and he also showed off admirable abilities as a defender in his clearances outside the box. Neuer was on top of his game for 120 minutes and was only beaten in added time when he was unable to prevent Abdelmoumene Djabou scoring.

As a result of his fellow defenders’ errors Neuer proved to be an effective sweeper against Algeria. In the ninth minute he risked a lot to prevent Islam Slimani breaking through down the right flank. The FCB keeper raced out of his goal again just before the half-hour mark to frustrate Sofiane Feghouli. German fans watched with bated breath on 71 minutes as Neuer was on the spot again to head the ball clear from the advancing Slimani. And to top it all he pulled off a save on 89 minutes to stop Feghouli netting a last-minute winner.

Praise from above

Germany coach Joachim Löw was keen to sing the praises of his number one thanks to saves like that. Neuer is not just world class in goal. He is good with his feet in setting up moves. That is why Löw trusted the World Goalkeeper of the Year to start in Brazil without having played in any of the warm-up games. Neuer was sidelined for four weeks after injuring his shoulder in the DFB Cup Final but he has been on form again at this World Cup against Portugal, Ghana and the USA before the Algeria game.

Neuer last night received praise from above on the return flight from Porto Alegre to Porto Seguro when DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach declared: “I think we all owe a big thank you to our number one. Manu, your performance today was world class. Absolutely world class.” The keeper conceded two goals in the three group games through no fault of his own but he definitely could not predict he would kept so busy in the match against the underdogs from North Africa. However, Neuer is well aware of the fact: You always have to be fully focused as a goalkeeper - and that he most certainly is.