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FIFA World Cup: 10-man Germany fall to shock defeat against Serbia

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miroslav_klose.jpgTen man Germany have fallen to a shock 1-0 defeat against Serbia in the FIFA World Cup in Port Elizabeth, which has left Group D wide open and the three time winners sweating to qualify. The Germans through Lucas Podolski missed a second half penalty following Nemanja Vidic's stupid hand ball as they failed to equalise Milan Jovanovic's first half goal in a controversial encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium. The Serb goal came just a minute after Spanish referee Alberto Undiano had sent off Miroslav Klose in the 37th minute following two innocuous looking yellow cards. The Spanish official booked another seven players in a game which was far from ill tempered. Group D is now beautifully poised with Germany, Serbia and Ghana all on three points before the West African side take on Australia in their second match tomorrow (Saturday).

Germany were looking to build on their impressive start after thrashing Australia 4-0 and manager Joachim Loew unsurprisingly went with an unchanged line up. Bastian Schweinsteiger had missed training with a cold but he was passed fit and German fans would have been licking their lips in anticipation to see if he could combine with the likes of playmaker Mesut Oezil and forward Thomas Mueller, who were both instrumental in their hammering of the Socceroos.

Serbia were forced to bring in Neven Subotic in place of the suspended Aleksandar Lukovic in defence following his red card against Ghana. Boss Radomir Antic also rang the changes in attack following their disappointing showing against the West Africans with Milos Ninkovic being the surprise choice to start alongside lanky striker Nikola Zigic. The side lined up in their familiar 4-4-2 formation but would have to show more attacking intent than their opening game if they were to come away from this encounter with hopes of reaching the second round. Particularly with their dreadful record of failing to record a win in ten attempts against the three time winners.

Serbia started well enough with Zigic having a tame header saved by Manuel Neuer on 2 minutes and then skipper Dejan Stankovic taking a pot-shot from distance, indicating that perhaps the Serbs were going to take the game to the Germans. But it did not take long for the likes of Oezil and Michael Ballack's replacement, Sami Khedira to start controlling proceedings in midfield. The Germans got into the act soon enough, with the enigma that is Lukas Podolski volleying a half-cleared cross from Nemanja Vidic just wide from outside the area. Germany striker Miroslav Klose's first telling contribution was the game's first booking on 13 minutes after the referee seemed to penalise him for repetitive fouling.

The flow of the game was being interrupted however with niggly tackles and overzealous referring after the Spanish official dished out the game's fourth yellow card with less than 22 minutes on the board. Khedira joined Serbia's Branislav Ivanovic and Aleksandar Kolarov into the referre's book as the game's decent enough start had been stopped dead in its tracks. Serbia's brave optimistic start had been replaced with their familiar caution as they resisted pushing men forward as the Germans struggled to match the pace, passing and movement from their opening game.

German Skipper Philipp Lahm became the latest player to be booked after a late lunge on Serbia's best player on show Milos Krasic. From the resultant free kick 25 yards out Kolarov struck a decent shot, but Neuer watched it comfortably drift past his left hand post. As the whistle was never far away from Senor Alberto Undiano's mouth it was no surprise that we were going to have an early bath for atleast one player. And so it was, as Klose received his second booking for a rather innocuous looking foul which led to his dismissal on 37 minutes. His sending off led to instant rewards for the Serbs as the Germans still rocking from his dismissal fell behind to a goal just a minute later. The ever threatening Krasic crossed for Zigic who headed it down to Milan Jovanovic, who was left on his own with not a German defender in sight, to poke home past the spread eagled but helpless Neuer. The game had changed within the space of 60 seconds due to poor referring and just as bad defending, leaving the Germans suddenly looking vulnerable. But the relentless German machine almost fashioned an equaliser on the stroke of half time when a cross from Oezil was punched straight to Khedira, who powered his effort against the crossbar. The German side walked off at half time in a bewildered state, wondering not only how they were behind but also how were they going to get back in this game with only 10 men.

The second half resumed with Raddy Antic's men set up perfectly to frustrate the Germans, who now had Oezil playing a little further up than the other two midfielders, with Podolski also drifting into the box a lot more frequently. As had been proved throughout their qualifying campaign the Serbs knew how to defend and the Germans would need every bit of their big game nous and never say die spirit to unlock a mean defence. The equaliser was so close to coming on 58 minutes after wonderful work by Khedira who threaded an inch perfect ball through to Podolski, but with just the keeper to beat he shot agonisingly wide of the post. But Serbia seemed intent on shooting themselves in their foot with a near carbon copy of the penalty they conceded against Ghana.

This time the normally calm Vidic quite literally handed Germany a life line when he inexplicably handled the ball in the penalty area. Up stepped Podolski but he had his 59th minute penalty well saved by Stojkovic, who guessed correctly and saved well to his left. Instead of Germany levelling they very soon almost fell further behind. Jovanovic was played through after some good interplay by the Serbian attackers, bet he too was denied by the woodwork. Manager Loew rang the changes, bringing on Brazilian born striker Cacau and 21-year old Werder Bremen midfielder Marko Marin, but it seemed to have little effect as back up the other end Zigic went close again for Serbia, who should have doubled their lead but his header could only find the top of the crossbar. The Germans were throwing everyone forward in the last 10 minutes, leaving only three at the back, in their desperate search for a goal.

Podolski was once again the culprit as he shot wide with just four minutes left on the clock as his side faced the prospect of a rare group stage defeat. The Germans were camped in the Serb half for the last few frantic minutes of added time but despite the odd goalmouth scramble they failed to find the equaliser which has now left them facing an uncertain future in Group D.

Serbia have reignited their campaign with this win and can have real hopes of securing a berth in the second round if they can beat Australia in their final group fixture on Wednesday, 23rd June. Once again they were solid at the back but they will surely need to eradicate the mind-blowing stupidity of conceding two penalties in both of their games if they want to progress. Germany now face Ghana in a massive game and the whole complexion of their campaign looks to have been undone by the dismissal of Klose (who will now miss their last game) and the second half penalty miss by Podolski.

The Teams :

Germany: Neuer (GK), Friedrich, Mertesacker, Lahm, Badstuber (Gomez 77'), Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Oezil (Cacau 70'), Mueller (Marin 70'), Podolski, Klose

Serbia: Stojkovic (GK), Kolarov, Ivanovic, Vidic, Subotic, Krasic, Stankovic, Kuzmanovic (Petrovic 75'), Jovanovic (Lazovic 79'), Ninkovic (Kacar 69'), Zigic.

Referee: Alberto Undiano (Spain)

Scoreline : Germany 0 - 1 Serbia
Jovanovic, 38'

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Also Read: Ghana 1-1. Australia (Match Report)

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel

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