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SAPPORO — The World Cup finally arrived in Japan on Saturday and Germany ensured that opening day will long be remembered. In one of the most one-sided games in World Cup history, Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 at the Sapporo Dome in their Group E match.

The highest score in the World Cup was the 10-1 thrashing that Hungary dished out to El Salvador in Spain in 1982 and at times that record appeared in danger of being broken. A hat trick by Miroslav Klose, and goals from Michael Ballack, Carsten Jancker, Oliver Bierhoff, Thomas Linke and Bernd Schneider sealed Saudi Arabia’s fate in front of 32,218 shocked fans.

“I’m satisfied with our performance,” Voeller said. “There was never been any doubt who the winner would be. The team was amazingly focused, everyone was motivated. It was clear from the beginning the Saudis would play defensive soccer, but we overcame them with our combination and technique.”

Saudi coach Nasser Al Johar took responsibility for the loss and tried to be upbeat.

“I am disappointed and I am also responsible for this match,” he said. “We still have a chance to qualify for the next round and we will promise our fans and officials to do our best in our next two matches.”

It is difficult to adequately assess how good the Germans were because Saudi Arabia was never in it. After Ireland’s draw with Cameroon earlier in the day, the result nevertheless puts Germany in a strong position to qualify from the group.

Voeller tried to put the win in perspective.

“We must keep our feet planted on the ground because our opponents today weren’t that strong and we have to prepare well for our next two games,” he said.

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