Milan Jovanovic blasted home a 38th-minute winner from close range two minutes after Germany striker Miroslav Klose had been sent off, and Wigan keeper Stojkovic saved a second-half Lukas Podolski penalty to blow Group D wide open as Serbia edged Germany 1-0 at Port Elizabeth Stadium. The result means that Germany, beaten in a FIFA World Cup™ group game for the first time since 1986, remain top of Group D on goal difference, Ghana and Serbia all now have three points, while Australia are yet to get off the mark.
Klose's afternoon reached an early end eight minutes before half-time, however, when following an earlier booking, he received a second yellow card for bringing down Dejan Stankovic from behind, and was duly sent off. Serbia capitalised immediately. Krasic outstripped his marker down the right, got to the byline, and crossed to the back post, where Zigic was hovering. The towering striker nodded the ball back across goal and into the path of Jovanovic, who took it on his chest and fired acrobatically past Manuel Neuer from five yards.
Germany raced out of the blocks following the start of the second half. Bastian Schweinsteiger almost went through on goal, but Vidic made a sliding challenge to avert the danger. Oezil then slid Podolski in only for the Cologne ace to power his shot into the side-netting from eight yards. Poldi had a far better opportunity to put his side back on level terms on the hour mark. Vidic unnecessarily handled Arne Friedrich's cross inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot, handing the Manchester United centre-back a yellow card. Podolski tried to pass the ball into the bottom corner, but Stojkovic flung himself down to his left and pulled off a great save.
Until the sending off they were excellent, but Klose's dismissal changed everything. Niggly fouls and tiredness played their part, but they continued to attack throughout, although the sense of injustice following the red card stopped them from focusing on getting back in the game.
Extremely lucky in both the sending off and the penalty save, Serbia knuckled down once they had a man advantage and offered very little by way of attacking intent. The result was all that mattered for them, but it was disappointing to see them fail to take control once Klose was off.
Could do better:
Lukas Podolski - An incisive runner, Podolski was a threat down the left but all too often missed his chances to get Germany back in the game. The focal point of the attack after the sending off, his penalty was poor and his attitude was not impressive either.
Germany's last non-shootout penalty miss in the World Cup was by Uli Hoeness in 1974 versus Poland.
My boss said (after all his analyses), Germany will play Argentina in this year's final. However, if both teams come out champion in their respective group, they will only meet in the Quarter Final. Therefore, one team has to come out second in its group. An early sent-off, missed penalty kick and a narrow loss for the Germans seems like all pointing to the Germany-Argentina. :-)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Posted at 9:51 PM