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World Cup Recap - Australia vs. Serbia



(Wednesday, June 23)

Final Score: Australia 2, Serbia 1

Nelspruit, South Africa (Sports Network) - Australia topped Serbia 2-1 to add some excitement to the final round of games in FIFA World Cup Group D at Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday.

The Socceroos needed to win and erase a five-goal difference with Ghana - which played Germany simultaneously - to advance to the knockout round. Unfortunately for the team from down-under, Germany edged the Black Stars by just a goal, ending Australia's chances of advancing by a three-goal shortfall.

Serbia needed a win or draw to advance, but came up short on Wednesday. Germany advances as the Group D winner, with Ghana earning the runner-up spot.

Tim Cahill and substitute Brett Holman scored second-half goals to put the Socceroos up 2-0 and give them hope before a Marko Pantelic goal six minutes from time dashed any chance for Australia to advance.

"I am disappointed, but we were not good enough in the end," Australia coach Pim Verbeek said. "We gave away some chances, and it was those that hurt us. At halftime, I told the boys that we had another 45 minutes to get a result - that it was an all or nothing situation. We needed that extra bit of luck at 2-0, to go up 3-0. The boys were fantastic. I'm just disappointed. We earned four points in the tournament, but the Germany game killed us."

The Serbians controlled the majority of the first half, with a Milos Krasic near-post rip from about 15 yards being parried past the post.

Krasic had another chance in the 12th minute after a through-ball got him free on the right side of the Australia area, and after he rounded goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, he fired well over the bar from a tight angle.

Serbia's Branislav Ivanovic had a point-blank shot in the 23rd minute that was also saved by Schwarzer.

The Serbians best chance of the half occurred when Nikola Zigic headed an Ivanovic service well wide after being left wide open at the top of the six- yard box in the 34th minute.

The Socceroos came out flying in the second half, with Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic parrying a shot wide on a free kick just before the hour mark. The keeper came up big again seconds later on a Marco Bresciano shot as well.

Australia finally broke through in the 69th minute when a Tim Cahill header off a Luke Wilkshire cross found the back of the net to put the Aussies up, 1-0.

Holman unleashed a 30-yard laser just inside the left post, perfectly placed to put the Socceroos up 2-0 four minutes later before Serbia's Pantelic knocked home a Zoran Tosic rebound in the 84th to close the gap to one.

"This was a game of good quality," Serbia coach Radomir Antic said. "I cannot reproach any of my players for their effort. We had plenty of opportunities. We deserved much more than we got."

06/23 19:58:53 ET


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