A young and exuberant German side showed the mettle to take on the mighty Aussies, and their youth coupled with the experiences of their dynamic duo – Klose and Podolski – paved the way for a prolific start to their world cup campaign.
In the absence of their experienced midfield stalwarts, Ballack and Frings, all eyes were set to see how Joachim Low’s trust in his young players would pay dividend in a tight group that consists of teams, who topped their respective qualifying campaigns.
The match started off with a breath of surprise. Australia drew first blood, in terms of chances, with Tim Cahill miscuing his shot in the very first minute. Two minutes later, Cahil headed a corner which was parried away by Neuer and ricocheted back to Garcia whose shot was blocked by Lahm inches off the goal line. That was the closest Australia came to scoring in the first half. Soon, the Germans started to find their feet and used their possession in full effect.
On eighth minute, Ozil’s incisive pass found Muller on the right flank and he duly crossed it in to Podolski in the far left corner of the penalty box. The Koln man shook off the disappointment of a disastrous season by a crisp strike that Scharzer could only manage to get a hand to but could not prevent the ball from crossing the goal-line.
The goal boosted the confidence of this young German team. Muller, Khedira and Ozil were creating dangerous situations with their off the ball movement and proved to be constant menaces.
Moments later, Ozil played a through pass to find a running Podolski whose neat low cross picked out an unmarked Klose. But the 2006 golden boot winner disappointed with an average effort that went miles wide. The Germans kept the pressure with a fair ball possession and finally their perseverence was rewarded with the second goal. Klose headed in an inch-perfect cross from the German captain and made amends for his earlier debacle.
More pressure was maintained by the Germans and soon, another clever run left Ozil one on one with Schwarzer, but the German’s little chip was saved from the goal line by Lucas Neill.
The Aussies started off the second half brightly by creating good pressure down both the flanks. A few minutes later an Australian appeal of a hand ball was turned down inside the German penalty box. Replays showed that Mertesacker’s hand had indeed touched the ball and Australia’s cries for a penalty seemed valid.
Ten mins after the restart, Australia were hard done by yet another controversial decision that reduced their team down to ten men. Tim Cahill was already losing his balance and in the process he lunged into Shweinsteiger from behind. The Socceroos had to play the rest 35 minutes of the match with just ten men and any chances of a renaissance were over after they were reduced to ten men. Germany seized this opportunity and calmly kept their possession and ticked on. Ozil played a delightful dummy inside the penalty box to let Muller have a clear shot on goal, which Muller wasted by hitting over the bar.
But soon the Bayern Munchen rookie got his name on the scoreboard. Podolski made an incisive run and cut in from the left and laid the ball for Muller, who feinted the defender and found the bottom right hand corner with great aplomb to score his first international goal for Die Mannschaft. To make matters worse for Australia, Ozil’s cross paved an unmarked Cacau, who replaced Klose, to score his first ever goal in his first appearance in the German color in a world cup.
With Germany sitting comfortably on top of the game, Low utilised the rest of the match by checking his other ammunitions. Mario Gomez came in place of Ozil and Marco Marin got his chance as well. Australia in the mean-time brought in young striker Nikita Rukavytsya in place of Richard Garcia to try and find a consolation goal. They tried to keep the pressure till the 90th minute to find an opening to get some confidence back. But the German defense, coupled with the disadvantage of being one man down, kept them from scoring their first goal in the competition.
GERMANY 4-0 AUSTRALIA
Venue: Durban Stadium, Durban
Germany Line-Up: Manuel Neuer, Holger Badstuber, Arne Frierich, Per Martesacker, Philipp Lahm(c), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Lucas Podolski ( Marko Marin ’81), Mesut Ozil(Mario Gomez ’74), Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose(Cacau ’68)
Manager: Joachim Low
Caution: Mesut Ozil, Cacau
Scorers: Lucas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller, Cacau
Australia Line-Up: Mark Schwarzer, Jason Culina, Craig Moore, Lucas Niell)(c), Scott Chipperfield, Vince Grella(Brett Holman ’46), Carl Valeri, Brett Emerton(Mile Jedinak ’74), Luke Wilkshire, Richard Garcia(Nikita Rukavytsya ’64), Tim Cahill
Manager: Pim Verbeek
Caution: Carl Valeri, Lucas Niell,Craig Moore
Sent-off: Tim Cahill