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REF'S KOP OUT; Andreas has a laugh over red card let-off.

Andreas Kopke yesterday looked like the man who had bought a winning Lottery ticket while out on a blind date with Pamela Anderson.

He had the biggest grin in Europe on his face when he sauntered into the Germans' press conference.

And if there is a luckier player at Euro 96 than the former car mechanic, I've yet to see him.

Last Sunday the Stuttgart keeper admitted Russia should have had a penalty when he whipped the legs from Alexandr Mostovoi. The score was 0-0 and Germany went on to win 3-0.

Then at Old Trafford on Wednesday Belgian referee Guy Goethals bottled the biggest decision of the tournament when he failed to send off Kopke for a professional foul on Pierluigi Casiraghi.

Seconds later, Kopke saved Gianfranco Zola's penalty and went on to win the Man of the Match award for a string of stops in the 0-0 draw which dumped Italy out of the tournament.

Yet the keeper knows he should have been OFF for his cynical eighth-minute foul.

He admitted: "I would have accepted a red card and I know that I would have been shown one if that had been a Bundesliga game.

"But at no point did I believe I was going to be shown one.

"That would have been a double punishment - a penalty AND an ordering off - and that would have been far too harsh.

"After all, I did go for the ball initially."

Kopke's performance enabled the Czech Republic, who drew 3-3 with Russia at Anfield, to clinch a clash with Portugal.

And ecstatic Czech players clamoured for the keeper's mobile phone number in order to congratulate him.

Kopke grinned: "They have not got through to me yet but I have had a lot of faxes congratulating me on my display.

"It was very hard to get to sleep afterwards because the adrenalin was still flowing.

"I just hope I don't have so much to do in the quarter-final against Croatia on Sunday.

"But with Davor Suker up front, anything can happen. He's a cheeky player as he proved with his shot from the halfway line against Denmark."

Kopke denied reports that he was ready to quit the national team after Euro 96.

German boss Berti Vogts has a couple of injury worries for the clash with Croatia. Stopper Thomas Helmer has a knee knock and full back Stefan Reuter has a tendon injury.

Vogts is desperate to have Helmer fit. He said: "We owe a big thank you to him. He has been a tower of strength for us.

"I'm just delighted to have won the so-called group of death and to come out with three clean sheets.

"But I wasn't too happy with the way we played against the Italians.

"We didn't act, we reacted, and even the way we did that was nothing to write home about.

"The plus points were that we fought like lions after Thomas Strunz was ordered off and not even an unbelievably strong team like Italy was able to score against us.

"That's given us something to build on but we must play better. We cannot keep giving the ball away. I promise you it will be different when we play Croatia.

"People have criticised Matthias Sammer for making mistakes against Italy.

"But even Franz Beckenbauer slipped up now and again and he was called The Kaiser. No one is infallible."

Vogts also attacked referee Goethals when he rapped: "You could see how Casiraghi went after Helmer with both legs out- stretched in the first half-hour. That needs addressing.

"I refuse to say that the Italians played brutally but they were aggressive."

Super-confident Germany are even looking ahead to the semi-finals.

Hitman Jurgen Klinsmann warned that he and his mates will be waiting to burst England's bubble if both reach the last four.

He is more than ready for a sudden-death shoot-out against his old Spurs strike partner Teddy Sheringham.

And he seemed to suggest Terry Venables' side may have peaked too soon when he described their 4- 1 win over Holland as `perfect'.

Klinsmann said: "We have reached the stage where you can win everything or lose everything in just one match.

"We have started well and we would love nothing better than to beat England at Wembley.

"That is a prospect you cannot help but look forward to. It would be a big, big game.

"I was so pleased for Teddy against Holland. He played well and his assist for Alan Shearer's second was fantastic.

"But you wouldn't expect us to let in four against Sheringham and Shearer. Not Germany. It wouldn't be that easy."

Team-mate Matthias Sammer also took the wind out of England's sails.

The hard-man defender said: "England's win against Holland didn't scare us. In fact we were paying more attention to Holland.

"Sheringham and Shearer? I don't have to worry about them yet."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Grahame, Ewing
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 21, 1996
Words:815
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