Germany needed a late goal by Lukas Podolski to snatch a draw at home to Finland in their final 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier. Jonatan Johansson's goal in the 11th minute ended Germany's six-match run without conceding, dating back to Russia's goal just over a year ago.
But Podolski's sixth goal of the qualification campaign finally rescued Germany, in the 90th minute of a match with no bearing on qualification - the hosts already assured of first place and Finland unable to pip Russia for second.
Despite six changes from the weekend victory over Russia which confirmed Germany's place in South Africa next summer, they started the stronger side. Yet it was the Finns who went ahead when Johansson scored in his 100th international.
Roni Porokara's cross from the left reached Roman Eremenko who headed on for Johansson to beat goalkeeper Rene Adler. The visitors restricted Germany to shots from distance, and Michael Ballack's left-footed shot from 18 yards went just over the bar just after the quarter-hour.
Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen intercepted Andreas Beck's high cross from the left as Mario Gomez threatened in the 33rd minute. But little else happened in the first half, and the fans in Hamburg spent the final ten minutes before the break letting their team know their displeasure.
Germany coach Joachim Low Low said afterwards: "For sure, we did not play well in the first half. We could not create many chances and allowed them a lot of counterattacks but in the second half we showed a strong determination to not lose the game."
Low sent on Mesut Ozil and Christian Gentner at the break, and the Germans came out with crisper passing and more energy. The Finns stood firm in defence, however.
Finland's Jari Litmanen had a goal four minutes after the restart ruled out for offside, and his header in the 52nd was not strong enough to seriously test Adler from ten yards. Jaaskelainen had a fine game, stopping Beck's blast in the 67th minute after a cross by Piotr Trochowski, whose rebound attempt went wide.
The hosts continually fed Gomez in the air as they sought a way back into the match. But the Bayern Munich striker could not find the target a number of times, perhaps his best opportunity coming and going in the 74th minute.
Germany continued to dominate possession and pushed forward looking for the equaliser. Ozil collected Beck's cross from the right, but put his effort from eight yards well wide, with 13 minutes left.
Jaaskelainen made a superb save from Miroslav Klose's header from eight yards with eight minutes left, and Ozil hit the side-netting with Germany's next attempt. Hard as they were trying, it had begun to look as if the hosts would finish empty-handed.
But finally the Germans were rewarded for their efforts after a scramble in the Finnish six-yard box. Ozil's attempt rebounded to Klose. He in turn found Podolski, whose right-footer was mis-hit, but crossed the goalline.