Confederations Cup 2017: Germany start campaign with narrow victory over Australia
A youthful Germany side weathered a second-half fightback by Australia to open their Confederations Cup campaign with a 3-2 win over the Socceroos on Monday in Sochi.
Sochi: A youthful Germany side weathered a second-half fightback by Australia to open their Confederations Cup campaign with a 3-2 win over the Socceroos on Monday in Sochi.
Goals by Lars Stindl and Leon Goretzka, either side of a penalty by Julian Draxler, saw Germany home to leave them second in Group B behind Chile, who they face in Kazan on Thursday.
Celtic midfielder Tommy Rogic had made it 1-1 in the first half and Tomi Juric added Australia's second after the break from a goal that was allowed to stand despite a suggestion of handball leading to a review from the video assistant referee.
The Socceroos then had a string of late chances to equalise, but Germany held out.
"First and foremost, I am happy we picked up the three points," beamed Germany coach Joachim Loew, who punched the air at the final whistle.
"We played well in the first half — the only bad thing was that we were only 2-1 up at the break.
"We lost our way after 60 minutes and need to work on retaining our stability, but a lot of things worked well."
Australia next face Cameroon, who lost 2-0 to Chile in their opening game, in Saint Petersburg on Thursday with both teams needing a win in their bid to reach the semi-finals.
"It's disappointing, we were barely clinging on in the first half," admitted Australia's coach Ange Postecoglou.
"The second half was better, we composed ourselves and got back into things.
"It's a loss and the loss falls on me, it's my responsibility."
Much had been made before kick-off of Germany bringing a young squad and their starting line-up had just 138 international appearances between them.
The arrival of the world champions in Sochi failed to excite local fans and only 28,605 of the Fisht Stadium's available 47,700 seats were filled.
Those who did turn out saw Germany waste no time in taking the lead with just five minutes into the game.
After Goretzka went close, winger Julian Brandt cut the ball back for Stindl, who slotted home his first goal for his country on only his third international appearance.
With Bayer Leverkusen's Brandt causing mayhem down the right flank, striker Sandro Wagner had two clear chances, a diving header and then a shot, both of which went wide.
Australia barely escaped their own half in the opening 30 minutes, but they eventually started to build some momentum.
Defender Trent Sainsbury wasted a golden chance when he headed Aaron Mooy's free-kick wide with the goal at his mercy.
Their breakthrough came when a Rogic shot was blocked, but the Celtic midfielder slammed home the rebound to pull the Socceroos level at 41 minutes.
It was not to last.
When Queens Park Rangers midfielder Massimo Luongo scythed down Goretzka in the area three minutes later, Germany captain Draxler drilled home the resulting penalty to make it 2-1 at the break.
And Germany extended their lead with a copybook move in the 48th minute.
Brandt combined with Joshua Kimmich, who floated a cross over the defence for Goretzka, and he took it in his stride and rifled home.
Australia made it 3-2 when Juric tapped home from close range after Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno failed to hold a deflected Rogic shot in the 56th minute.
With the Germans screaming for handball, the decision to give the goal was referred to the video assistant referee.
Replays showed the ball striking Juric's arm before Leno saved, but the goal was allowed to stand.
Australia kept up the pressure after that as substitutes James Troisi and Robbie Kruse, as well as Juric, all tested Leno in the final quarter.
At the other end, German substitute Timo Werner hit the post after holding off two defenders and beating Maty Ryan.
Veteran midfielder Tim Cahill, now 37, came on towards the end for his 98th cap, but the Socceroos' all-time top scorer failed to add to his tally of 48 goals.
The 2020 competition was disrupted heavily by the pandemic, and concluded with a 'Final Eight' tournament in Lisbon after it was forced to move away from Istanbul.
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