Socceroos stun German youngsters in second-half turnaround | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.03.2011
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Socceroos stun German youngsters in second-half turnaround

An experimental German eleven gave away two soft goals in three minutes against Australia, and paid the price. Australia's decisive penalty may have been controversial, but it followed some woeful defending.

Joachim Löw puts his hand in front of his face in an apparent mixture of anger and exasperation

Coach Jogi Löw didn't really like what little he actually saw

It's a tall order to expect a starting eleven with eight fresh faces to immediately gel and perform, and Germany's young line-up couldn't rise to the task on Tuesday.

Australia's Socceroos shocked Germany 2-1 in Mönchengladbach, taking a measure of revenge for their comprehensive defeat against Joachim Löw's men in last year's World Cup in South Africa.

Germany's perfect record in competitive matches stretches back to their defeat at the hands of Spain in the semifinals in South Africa, yet in friendly matches the side has been anything but stellar.

"I think it can be a question of attitude," substitute Miroslav Klose said after the match. "One can prepare very well, and then still be a bit too sloppy during the game. We shouldn't let that happen."

Australia's Luke Wilkshire, left, scores from the penalty spot

Luke Wilkshire (left) converted the winner, though it came from a contentious penalty

Germany performed fairly well in the first half, enjoying the lion's share of possession and chances without ever really excelling.

Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez, starting in place of his club teammate Miroslav Klose up front, opened the scoring in style after 26 minutes. In one of the few displays of the slick, short passing Joachim Löw aspires to coach, midfielders Sven Bender, Thomas Müller and then Andre Schürrle combined to feed Gomez on the edge of the penalty area. The Bundesliga's leading scorer placed the ball in the top corner, leaving veteran Aussie keeper Mark Schwarzer no chance.

"It was a real shame," coach Joachim Löw said. "In the first half we did a really good job, the young players too. But we gave the game away in the second half."

Second-half turnaround

Around the hour-mark, however, Germany's defense was caught napping twice in two minutes. Midfielder David Carney, who plies his trade in the English Premiership for Blackpool, broke free with ease down the left flank, and slotted the ball underneath Tim Wiese in the German goal.

Moments after the shock equalizer, veteran forward Harry Kewell tussled with Stuttgart's young fullback Christian Träsch on the edge of the area. Eventually, Kewell went to ground and the referee decided, somewhat controversially, that Träsch had tripped him. Joachim Löw said after the game that he did not believe it was a penalty.

Dynamo Moscow's midfielder Luke Wilkshire converted the spot-kick.

Germany's Mario Gomez, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring

The game started smoothly, if not spectacularly, for Germany

"It would have been utterly unrealistic to believe that we could win before the match," the Socceroos' visibly delighted German coach Holger Osieck said. "I know the German side - and the quality they possess - too well for that. We just wanted to play our best and put on a good show."

Germany traded strikers late on, bringing Klose on for Gomez, and the Bayern veteran missed a golden opportunity to level the scores on 78 minutes, having broken clear of the Australian defense. Klose was also booked for diving late on after falling over in the penalty area, though it was not clear whether he was seeking to deceive the French referee, or whether he simply lost his balance.

Youngsters failed to gel

Bayern Munich attacker Thomas Müller, his out-of-form teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger - wearing the captain's armband for the night - and Cologne captain Lukas Podolski were the only regulars to start the friendly against Australia.

Löw sought out a mixture of rising stars and experienced fringe players to make up the remainder of his side, including offering Dortmund's midfield hardman Sven Bender his national team debut.

"Friendly matches are always a good chance for coaches to gain some insights," Löw, seeking a silver lining, told reporters after the match. "Young players can really learn something in games like this. It can help them develop."

Sven Bender (left) battles for possession

Dortmund youngster Sven Bender played his Germany debut

However, few of the youngsters managed to really shine in a rather stale overall German performance. Winger Andre Schürrle was arguably the most impressive, Germany's SID news agency offered the following appraisal: "Active, dynamic, and courageous: the Mainz player created a lot of chances down the right side and set up the opening goal. He used his chance."

While Germany faltered in their friendly, four of their Group A Euro 2012 qualifying opponents were in action around Europe. Belgium held on to second place in the group with a 4-1 win over Azerbaijan in Brussels. Turkey moved up to third, courtesy of their 2-0 home win against Austria, who dropped to fourth place in a group that the German side comfortably leads.

Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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