World Cup post-game: Germany 4, Australia 0
Miroslav Klose netted his 11th career World Cup goal to guide Germany to a convincing 4-0 win over Australia on Sunday in Group D action at Durban, South Africa.
The main story line
Efficient. Ruthless. Cold-blooded.
All the standard stereotypes apply when describing Germany's performance against Australia.
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A lot of pundits questioned the Germans' credentials as World Cup contenders prior to the tournament after they lost captain Michael Ballack to injury. But the three-time champions erased any doubt Sunday with a near-perfect outing, toying with the Socceroos for long passages of play.
Indeed, the score flattered Australia. Had Klose and Mesut Oezil been more clinical in front of net, the Germans could have easily won 8-0.
Still, coach Joachim Low will be more than pleased with how his midfielders penetrated the penalty area with alarming regularity, to say nothing of the fact that Klose, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller (who also scored) formed an awesome attacking trio that tore the Australian defence apart.
The winning goal
Germany sealed its fate in the eighth minute. Oezil played an exquisite defence-splitting pass into the box to Mueller, who expertly pulled it back for Podolski. With the ball teed up, Podolski blasted a powerful shot that Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer could only get a hand to, as the ball sailed past him.
Turning point of the game
Australia swarmed the Germans in the opening minutes and, even when Germany took the early lead, the Socceroos still looked dangerous when going forward. But they had the life knocked out of them when Klose scored on a great header in the 26th minute to double the Germans' advantage.
What this result means
With the victory, Germany moved into a tie for first place in Group D with Ghana. Both teams have three points, but Germany nudges ahead of the Africans because they have scored more goals. Australia and Serbia are at the bottom of the group.
This sets up an interesting situation in Germany's next match, as it can effectively clinch a second-round berth with a win, which would also probably eliminate Serbia (which many critics pegged as the group co-favourites).
Australia needs to take four points from the next two games if it has any hope of making it through to the next round. But that will be hard for the Socceroos, as influential midfielder Tim Cahill earned a red card in the second half Sunday, which means he will be suspended for one game.
Man of the match
Klose was his usual outstanding self for Germany, scoring one goal and setting up teammates with scoring chances. Klose put the Australian defence under a steady stream or pressure with his dangerous runs, and punished them when he scored on a powerful header off a fantastic cross from the right wing by defender Philipp Lahm.
The goal was Klose's 11th career World Cup goal, allowing him to move into a tie for fifth place on the all-time list with fellow German Jurgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis of Hungary.
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Goal of the match
Germany's first goal, by Podolski, was the picture of perfection, the product of an excellent passing sequence that featured trademark German efficiency.
Save of the match
German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was called into action in the fourth minute. Cahill's shot on goal was cleared off the line by Lahm and the rebound fell to Richard Garcia. But he couldn't convert as Neuer made a magnificent block to deny the Australian.
The German perspective
"We earned respect for ourselves. It was hugely important to win the first game, but nothing is won yet. We're a young team and we have fun playing." — forward Miroslav Klose
The Australian perspective
"It was not an easy game for us. We tried to make it very difficult for them and use our speed, but we didn't have the ball in the first 20 minutes." — coach Pim Verbeek
Germany takes on Serbia in Port Elizabeth on June 18 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 a.m. ET), while Australia meets Ghana on June 19 in Rustenburg (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET).