MONTPELLIER, France -- There is a German word that has no equivalent in English, a term that perfectly describes how Germany, which had always been considered machinelike in its soccer efficiency, but soulless, has learned to fuse technical excellence with emotion.
"We say, 'willenskraft,' " German coach Berti Vogts said. "If you want to win, you will. It is your mind and your body working together to make it possible."
The Germans' indomitable will gave new firmness to legs that had grown rubbery in the fierce heat and under the equally fierce challenge posed by Mexico in their round-of-16 World Cup game yesterday.
That marriage of perseverance and precision was highlighted when Jurgen Klinsmann lifted the ball over a diving Jorge Campos in the 75th minute and Oliver Bierhoff leaped high above a crowd of Mexican defenders to score on a header in the 86th minute, carrying Germany to a 2-1 victory and a berth in the quarterfinals.
On Saturday in Lyon, Germany will play the winner of today's game between Croatia and Romania.
"I don't want to go through another difficult day like this was today," Vogts said with a weary smile.
Mexico made it tough with its aggressiveness and the superb goalkeeping of Campos, whose tiny frame belies his massive presence. In the 38th minute of the scoreless first half, he made a brilliant save on a left-footed blast by Michael Tarnat, tipping the ball away to keep underdog Mexico's hopes alive.
But Campos was not enough, even though Mexico scored first, for the only time in its four matches here.
Nimble footwork in the box by striker Luis Hernandez, who had taken a pass from Cuauhtemoc Blanco, paid off in the 47th minute. And Mexico almost pulled away to a 2-0 lead in the 62nd minute, but Jesus Arellano's shot deflected off the hand of goalkeeper Andreas Kopke and hit the left post.
"We were fighting with all our strength and we scored, and I thought we would win and that we would score that second goal," Mexican coach Manuel Lapuente said.
"We were winning, but Germany was coming back all the time," Campos added. "They are a great team."
The Germans pulled even when Klinsmann, dangerous as always in the box, reached a long cross from Dietmar Hamann that might have been targeted for Bierhoff, but glanced off Bierhoff's back.
The ball was at the feet of Mexican defender Raul Lara, but Lara couldn't clear it and Klinsmann got behind him, scoring on a sliding shot.
"We tried to put a lot of pressure on the Mexican team in the first half," Klinsmann said. "I think we were technically better. In the second half, the goal for Mexico came as a shock, but we had spirit and kept fighting. After 1-0, we continued to have hope and apply pressure. I was always optimistic."
Bierhoff, sandwiched by a couple of defenders, scored the decisive goal by outjumping Lara and heading the ball just inside the right post.
"Even if we go behind, 1-0, we are still attacking," Bierhoff said.
It was more attack than Mexico could handle, game though the team was.
Said Vogts: "I must congratulate and compliment the Mexican team. They played with a lot of passion. They were absolutely exceptional. I played against Mexico and I have rarely seen as much passion."
Germany 0 2 -- 2
Mexico 0 1 -- 1
Second half--1, Mexico, Hernandez 4, 47th minute. 2, Germany, Klinsmann 3, 75th. 3, Germany, Bierhoff 3, 86th.
Yellow cards--Germany, Babbel, 47th (first-half injury time); Matthaeus, 57th; Tarnat, 78th; Hamann, 89th. Mexico, Davino, 58th; Blanco, 88th. Shots at goal--Germany 14. Mexico 11. Shots on goal--Germany 6. Mexico 7. Offsides--Germany 1, Mexico 2. Fouls--Germany 23, Mexico 14.
Yesterday's results: Germany 2, Mexico 1 Netherlands 2, Yugoslavia 1
Stars: Juergen Klinsmann and Oliver Bierhoff each scored his third goal of the tournament to help Germany reach the quarterfinals by rallying from a one-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes. The Netherlands' Edgar Davids got the winning goal in second-half injury time.
History: The Germans have made the final eight of every World Cup they have entered except 1938.
Kicking himself: Predrag Mijatovic of Yugoslavia became the first player in this tournament to miss on a penalty kick. His shot hit the crossbar.
Gone: U.S. coach Steve Sampson resigned after team's 0-3 finish.
Today's matches: The Argentines did not yield a goal in the first round, the only team to be that stingy. England has the attackers in Alan Shearer and Michael Owen to change that, but can the British defense handle the potent combination of Ariel Ortega and Gabriel Batistuta?
The Romanians won Group G, beating England along the way. They had the best record in European qualifying, and they have a budding star in Adrian Ilie. In Croatia, they face a foe that didn't show much against Argentina in a game for the group title after beating weak Japan and Jamaica.
Quotable: "My team went through 90 minutes of torture. We won with our fighting spirit. They found the strength to win a game that was nearly lost." -- Germany coach Berti Vogts after the 2-1 win over Mexico.
Pub Date: 6/30/98