Three-time champion Germany beat Australia 4-0 last night to top Group D at soccer’s World Cup after a day when all three losing teams finished with 10 men. Ghana beat Serbia 1-0 and Slovenia defeated Algeria 1-0.
Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller and Cacau scored in Durban, South Africa, in Germany’s first match of this year’s championship. Australia’s Tim Cahill received a straight red card after 56 minutes for a foul on Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Germany, which last won the tournament in 1990, tops the group because of a superior goal difference to Ghana. Slovenia sits above England and the U.S. in Group C following its victory against Algeria.
“We made silly mistakes, and at this level you get punished,” Australia captain Lucas Neill said in a televised interview.
Australia, playing at its third World Cup, had the first clear chance before Germany took control. Cahill had an effort stopped in front of goal by Philipp Lahm, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocking a follow-up effort by Richard Garcia.
Klose blasted straight at Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer after seven minutes, but only a minute later Germany was ahead as Podolski netted a 39th goal in 74 internationals. His left-foot shot was too powerful for Schwarzer.
Klose wasted another opportunity, blasting wide after 24 minutes, before atoning two minutes later. The Polish-born striker beat Schwarzer to a Lahm cross to score an 11th World Cup goal. Only four players have registered more goals in tournament history.
Australia exerted pressure early in the second half before Cahill’s red card effectively ended their hopes.
Mueller’s first international goal and a close-range strike by substitute Cacau heaped further misery on the Socceroos, who reached the second round four years ago.
Today, the Netherlands face Denmark, and Japan plays Cameroon in Group E. Italy meets Paraguay in Group F.
In Pretoria yesterday, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan scored from the penalty spot in the 84th minute to give the Black Stars a win.
Ghana, making its second straight appearance at the finals after first qualifying in 2006, had a one-man advantage from the 74th minute when Aleksandar Lukovic received a second yellow card.
Gyan got the only goal after Zdravko Kuzmanovic handled the ball as he stretched to cut out a cross in the penalty area. He almost added a second goal in injury time on a breakaway, but the ball hit the post before rebounding to safety. Gyan also headed against the outside of a post earlier in the half.
Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson palmed away Serbia’s best opportunity by Milos Krasic after 79 minutes.
Slovenia got its first World Cup win on a Robert Koren goal in the 79th minute, as goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi allowed a shot to squirm past his left hand. Seven minutes earlier, Algeria’s Abdelkader Ghezzal was dismissed for a second yellow card, for handball.
The win leaves Slovenia on three points. England and the U.S. have one each after their 1-1 draw yesterday, while Algeria has no points.
“It’s a very big thing for such a small country to even go to the World Cup, much less to win our first three points,” Koren told reporters. “But we know we have two games left to go and hopefully we’ll get the right results we need to go through from the group.”
Algeria, which qualified after a playoff with Egypt, went close after 35 minutes when Slovenia failed to deal with a corner and Rafik Halliche headed just wide. Karim Matmour then shot over as Algeria increased the pace.
Slovenia hit back and Valter Birsa’s shot was tipped over by Chaouchi just before halftime.
In the 70th minute Ghezzal headed over for Algeria. He was dismissed soon after.