For one night, the Beautiful Game belonged to Germany.
Known more as a methodical team than a brilliantly creative one such as Brazil, the Germans scored several lovely goals Sunday night in a 4-0 rout of Australia in Durban, South Africa.
Germany scored two goals in each half, and Aussie star Tim Cahill was sent off as the three-time champion surged to the top of Group D at the World Cup.
Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose scored in the first 30 minutes as Australia coach Pim Verbeek’s defensive tactics backfired.
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Thomas Mueller and Cacau also scored against an overwhelmed Australian defense in the second half after Cahill was red-carded in the 56th minute for a late tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The Germans’ dominant win, played in front of 62,660 fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, came without injured captain Michael Ballack.
“We earned respect for ourselves,” Klose said. “It was hugely important to win the first game, but nothing is won yet. We’re a young team and we have fun playing.”
Germany had not lost an opening game in the World Cup since a 2-1 defeat to Algeria in 1982.
Slovenia 1, Algeria 0: Robert Koren scored a late goal to lift Slovenia over 10-man Algeria in Polokwane and into first place in Group C, ahead of the U.S. and England.
Algeria keeper Fawzi Chaouchi mishandled the Slovenian captain’s long-range shot and watched with horror as it went off his arm and into the net in the 79th minute.
It was the first World Cup victory for Slovenia, the smallest nation in the tournament with a population of around 2 million. The Balkan country lost all three of its group matches in the 2002 tournament.
Algeria substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off in the 72nd, picking up a second yellow card for handling the ball inside the Slovenian penalty area.
Ghana 1, Serbia 0: Asamoah Gyan scored on an 84th-minute penalty kick as Ghana won the Group D match.
Zdravko Kuzmanovic needlessly handled a cross in the area, then argued the call and yellow card he received. Gyan drove the penalty kick high to the left for the only goal at Loftus Versfeld stadium.
Serbia’s only real threat near the end was a shot by Milos Krasic that was brilliantly saved by Richard Kingson.
The victory was the first for an African team at this tournament.