Germany's national soccer team suffered a disappointing defeat to Argentina on Wednesday evening. A first-half strike by Gonzalo Higuain was enough to secure a 1-0 victory over Jogi Loew's hapless men.
Rene Adler arrived too late to prevent the game's only goal
Gonzalo Higuain clipped a neat goal over the onrushing German goalkeeper Rene Adler to give Diego Maradona's Argentina an away win to a lackluster Germany in Munich's Allianz stadium.
Germany was arguably Maradona's biggest scalp so far in his short career as Argentina's national coach, and the World Cup legend made clear afterwards how seriously he had taken the challenge.
"We needed to show ourselves we could do what we did today," Maradona said in the post-match press conference. "We wanted to show against a good team that we are alive and we understand the moment of the Argentine national team, which has not won the World Cup for 24 years."
Maradona claimed his first high-profile scalp in Munich
Reporters could not help but be reminded of the two famous World Cup finals, both featuring Maradona, Germany and Argentina fought out in 1986 and 1990.
The goal that decided Wednesday's friendly came after Rene Adler's ill-advised decision to come out for a long ball knocked hopefully into the German half. Real Madrid striker Higuain, often overlooked by Maradona and his predecessor Alfio Basile, beat Adler to the ball by what the keeper later ruefully described as "that famous half-meter" and slotted home the finish.
Throughout the rest of an edgy, tactical game, the German defence often resorted to rough-arm tactics to stop Argentina's star attackers Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, though there was nothing they could do to stop a brilliant effort by the Benfica player.
Collecting Veron's pass about 25 metres from goal, Di Maria slipped his marker, thumped his shot against the crossbar and appeared to be smacked in the face by a defender immediately afterwards.
Veron tried an even more spectacular effort early in the second half when Adler failed to clear the ball properly and the Estudiantes player lobbed the goalkeeper from about 40 meters only to see his effort just miss the target.
The friendly was one of the last warm-up games before the World Cup
Germany came to life after Cacau replaced the ineffective Mesut Oezil in the 67th minute, but while the Brazilian-born forward tested Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero with a powerful drive, he could do nothing to avert Germany's defeat, which marked the third game without a win for Jogi Loew's men.
The frustrated German crowd watched most of the World Cup warm-up match in silence, while Argentinian supporters cheered as the South American powerhouses stroked the ball around in the dying minutes and greeted the final whistle with a resounding chorus of jeers.
"Our mistake was not to take more risks up front," concluded Germany captain Michael Ballack after the game.
According to Fifa's latest world rankings, Germany is number five - four places above Argentina at nine, one behind England. The World Cup in South Africa is now only 99 days away.
Editor: Nigel Tandy