Early penalty helps Germany beat Hungary

Lukas Podolski converted from the spot in the fifth minute as Germany thumped Hungary 3-0 in a World Cup warm-up on Saturday in Budapest.

Germany thumped Hungary 3-0 in a World Cup warm-up Saturday in Budapest.

Lukas Podolski converted from the spot in the fifth minute after Hungary’s Sandor Torghelle pulled down Per Mertesacker following a corner kick. Mario Gomez added a goal in the 69th, just minutes after he came on as a substitute, and Cacau made it 3-0 in the 73rd by outrunning the defence.

Germany's Mesut Ozil had three clear scoring chances in the first half, but confident saves by Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly helped keep the host in the match.

Hungary had few scoring chances and its best came in second-half injury time when Balazs Dzsudzsak’s kick of a rebound save by Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer sailed over the crossbar.

Joachim Loew’s German squad was without four from Bayern Munich — Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Joerg Butt and Thomas Mueller — who were rested after a long season with the Bundesliga champions and Champions League finalists.

"I wasn’t totally satisfied during the first half … and during the break I told the players to increase the tempo," Loew said. "We still have two and a half weeks until the World Cup … and despite the absence of Michael Ballack, our chances our good."

Ballack will miss the World Cup due to an ankle injury and Loew named Lahm to replace Ballack as captain of the three-time world champions.

Near the end of the match, Hungary fans at Ferenc Puskas Stadium chanted loudly for the return of Zoltan Gera, who was essential in Fulham’s march to the final of the Europa League a few weeks ago but who retired last year from the national team after a conflict with coach Erwin Koeman.

Koeman said the inopportune penalty put his team at a great disadvantage and acknowledged that Germany’s speed and physical and tactical superiority made it hard for Hungary to hold its ground.

"We have to learn to defend more aggressively to be able to compete with such players," Koeman said. "We played against one of the best teams in the world."

Germany will play Bosnia-Herzegovina in Frankfurt on Thursday in its last warmup before leaving for South Africa, where it will be in Group D with Australia, Serbia and Ghana in the first round.

Hungary, which hasn’t been to a major international tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, will play a friendly against the Netherlands next Saturday.