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They hobbled off the field, looking like losers. They spent forever in the showers, then went for massages. They didn't feel much like talking.

These were the world champion Germans, who had just squeezed into the second round of the World Cup?They were. It might have seemed more like torture than triumph, but the Germans survived the searing heat in Dallas and the second-half charge of the South Koreans to win 3-2. That victory gave them first place in Group C.

It also gave them relief, lots of relief.

"I don't forsee any problems," said Juergen Klinsmann, whose two goals helped Germany to a 3-0 lead in the first 37 minutes. "The only problems we've had were the last 30 minutes against Spain and the last 30 minutes against Korea.

"Even though the team is older, we've got more experience. Now that we go into the knockout system, I don't forsee any problems. Now we feel it's high time to play."

The 100-plus temperatures were too high for the Germans and seemed to suit the Koreans, who dominated the second half. Klinsmann sought an explanation of just why the champions were forced to play all three first-rounders in the middle of the day.

"I have one question to ask: Why is it that we have to play at 3 p.m?" he said. Then he answered his own question. "In the afternoon heat for European TV."

They wilted in that heat and had to rely on goalie Bodo Illgner to make three sparkling saves in the final minutes.

In the other game Monday, Spain sent Bolivia home with a 3-1 decision, giving the Spanish second place in the group.

The United States moved closer to advancing when Germany eliminated South Korea and Spain took out Bolivia. The German win meant if the Americans get into the second round - they could find out today - it will be against either Brazil or Sweden at Stanford on July 4.

The U.S. players were upset that the U.S. Soccer Federation misinterpreted the rules concerning yellow cards in the first round. The USSF failed to tell players that two yellow cards in separate first-round games would result in a one-game suspension. John Harkes would miss the second round because of that rule.

"It's embarrassing, actually, to tell you the truth," defender Alexi Lalas said. "It's the rules of the game. It doesn't matter what your experience is or how many World Cups you played in, at the very least you should know the rules of the tournament you're in, and we didn't."

Today, Ireland, Norway, Italy and Mexico settled the "Group of Death." All were tied with three points in Group E, the toughest of the first round. Ireland played Norway at East Rutherford, N.J., and Italy took on Mexico at Washington.

Later in the afternoon, Group B concluded with Brazil against Sweden at Pontiac, Mich., and Russia vs. Cameroon at Stanford, Calif. Brazil already has secured a spot in the second round.

At Chicago on Monday, Bolivia got its first World Cup goal, by Erwin Sanchez. It wasn't nearly enough as Jose Luis Caminero connected twice and Spain also got a goal on a penalty kick by Josep Guardiola.

Caminero will be suspended for the second-round game against Switzerland at Washington after getting his second yellow card of the opening round.

"Time was almost up and," he said, "at that stage of the game, you are unsure of all that is going on. I lost control. I was a bit nervous, but I have faith the team will play a very good game without me. I think we are strong enough to win against Switzerland."

In other World Cup news:

-The United States' 1-0 loss to Romania on Sunday got a 7.8 overnight rating in 29 major markets, making it likely the game was the most-watched soccer telecast ever in the United States.

When national ratings are released Thursday, the game is likely to top the current record, a 6.6 for Italy's victory over West Germany in the 1982 World Cup final.

"These numbers continue to excite us," FIFA general secretary Sepp Blatter said Monday. "The American public is truly embracing soccer, not only in the stadiums but also in the living rooms."

FIFA says it's getting what it wants out of stricter rules on rough play - more action, more scoring chances, more soccer.

"This is constantly coming out through better match control and better behavior on the part of most players," said Blatter. "There is more spectacle."

David Will, a FIFA vice president and chairman of the referees commission, said the referees and linesmen have remarked on the players' good conduct.

"There have been very few calls for dissent," he said. "That gives us great pleasure."