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FOOTBALL

Germany hammer the Netherlands 3-0

Veteran striker Miroslav Klose rolled back the years with a goal and two assists on Tuesday evening as Germany hammered Euro 2012 rivals the Netherlands 3-0 in a friendly in Hamburg.

Germany hammer the Netherlands 3-0
Photo: DPA

The 33-year-old provided the final pass for Thomas Müller to give the hosts an early lead against the World Cup finalists before Klose scored his 63rd goal for Germany leaving him just five short of Gerd Müller’s all-time record.

The Lazio striker then set up Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil to enjoy a simple tap in on 66 minutes as Germany lay down a marker for June’s Euro 2012 over their neighbours.

This was Germany’s first win over the Dutch since 1996 and will be seen as revenge for their 2-1 semi-final defeat in the 1988 European Championships when Marco van Basten’s late winner broke German hearts – also in Hamburg.

At least one Dutch flag here, bearing the date 21-06-88, alluded to that defeat.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk had made four changes to the side which had been held to a goalless draw by Switzerland on Friday in Amsterdam.

Robin van Persie was replaced by striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar up front, while Kevin Strootman came in for thigh injury-victim Rafael van der Vaart in midfield.

Right-back Khalid Gregory van der Wiel took over from Khalid Boulahrouz while AC Milan’s Mark van Bommel replaced Nigel de Jong in midfield.

Germany coach Joachim Löw abandoned the experimental 3-4-1-2 formation which had resulted in Friday’s 3-3 draw with the Ukraine in Kiev, for the familiar 4-2-3-1 with Klose as captain, playing as the lone striker and Mario Gomez on the bench.

This was Löw’s 75th international as coach and his 52nd win, as Germany closed the year with a second major scalp after also beating Brazil in a friendly in August, and finished their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with 10 wins from 10.

Klose, making his 113th appearance, showed the knee injury, which had kept him out of Friday’s draw in Kiev, was behind him with his first shot in the first minute, then provided the pass for the first goal.

A Toni Kroos cross from the wing was squared by Klose for Müller to come onto the ball at pace to put Germany ahead on 15 minutes and his near-post shot gave Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg no chance.

The pair combined again when a superb run from Müller ended with a deft pass to Özil and with plenty of space, the Real Madrid star supplied a pin-point cross for Klose to head home on 26 minutes.

The Dutch barely had a look-in during the first 45 minutes and both Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder and Klose picked up first-half bookings.

Klose then produced his second assist of the game when Müller’s clever pass split the Dutch defence and he drew Stekelenburg for Özil to tap the ball into an empty net on 66 minutes to wrap up the win.

AFP/hc

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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