Rio de Janeiro - Germany on Sunday hailed its evergreen football hero Miroslav Klose after he equalled Ronaldo's record of 15 goals at World Cup finals with one of his most important strikes.
The 36-year-old tapped in a crucial equaliser against Ghana two minutes after coming on as substitute. Klose performed his trademark celebratory flip and the tributes came flooding in.
“Welcome to the club,” Brazilian great Ronaldo Tweeted. “I can only imagine your happiness!!! What a beautiful Cup!!!”
Germany coach Joachim Loew and the country's media also paid tribute to the Lazio striker, now at his fourth World Cup finals whose goal even overshadowed a brilliant Lionel Messi strike against Iran that saw Argentina into the second round.
“Thanks, Old Guy!” headlined the Bild am Sonntag tabloid on its front page, showing a photo of Germany's all-time record scorer doing his flip jump.
“Klose rescues Germany,” said the broadsheet Welt am Sonntag highlighting his role in the dramatic game which finished 2-2. The Berliner Morgenpost proclaimed it's “world class to have a striker like Klose.”
“I'm incredibly pleased for him, that is another high point in his unparalleled career,” said Loew.
“It has not been an easy season for him, but he has done it again and got himself in top shape for a tournament. For a coach it is of course great to have options like him on the bench.”
Klose has said next year will be his last in Germany's white shirt. But he could yet break Lothar Matthaeus' record of 150 caps. He has so far played in 133 internationals and scored 70 goals.
Klose sat out Germany's 4-0 thumping of Portugal on Monday when Thomas Mueller claimed a hat-trick in his place.
“You really want to come in when the team is winning,” admitted Klose.
“It doesn't matter whether I play from the start or come off the bench: all games are important and 15 goals in 20 World Cup games isn't bad.”
The result left Germany on top of Group G with four points. Ghana, beaten by the United States in their first game, have one point heading into their final match with Portugal next week.
Messi curled in a brilliant shot in the first minute of injury time as Argentina overcame Iran 1-0 in Group F to enter the second round.
The result broke Iranian hearts. Argentina's captain was largely anonymous for much of the match as Iran frustrated the South American giants at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao Stadium.
Iranian media lamented the “injustice” of Serbian referee Milorad Mazic's rejection of a penalty appeal that could have turned the game.
“Argentina + the referee 1, Iran 0,” read the headline by Jam-e-Jam newspaper, next to a photo of Iranian forward Ashkan Dejagah going down in a tackle by Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta.
“Messi was fantastic, but the referee wasn't,” fumed Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz.
Argentina keeper Sergio Romero also pulled off fine second-half saves from England-based duo Dejagah and Reza Ghoochannejad.
The result leaves Argentina assured of a place in the last 16, joining Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Netherlands.
“We are not showing what we can do, but with a run of games I think we will get there,” Messi said of Argentina's form.
Also in Group F, Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 to remain in contention for a last 16 place. The European side were eliminated.
It was Nigeria's first win in a World Cup finals match since 1998 and nationwide celebrations erupted. Nigeria now need only a draw against Argentina on Wednesday to advance to the knockout rounds.
Bosnia were furious at New Zealand referee Peter O'Leary after two key decisions went against them in the opening 45 minutes. First striker Edin Dzeko had a goal ruled offside.
When Peter Odemwingie scored for Nigeria moments later, Bosnia's players claimed Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike had fouled Bosnia captain Emir Spahic in the build-up. But the goal stood.
“I was told there was no offside but it's not the first or last time a referee has made a bad decision at this World Cup and it won't be the last,” said Bosnia coach Safet Susic.
Sunday's action will bring down the curtain on the second round of group games with Portugal needing a win against the United States to revive their flagging hopes of reaching the last 16. In Group H Belgium take on Russia and South Korea meet Algeria.