Klose sent off 37
Serbia opened up Group D with victory over 10-man Germany thanks to a solitary goal from Milan Jovanovic. Miroslav Klose was harshly sent off for two bookings and Lukas Podolski missed a penalty for the Germans.
The game opened up with the dismissal of Klose after 37 minutes for a second yellow. Neither challenge was particularly worthy of a booking and had more to do with the particularly fussy Spanish referee, Alberto Undiano. After 12 minutes, Klose clipped the heels of Branislav Ivanovic in the Serbian half, contact that looked accidental. His second offence was similarly harmless, tripping Dejan Stankovic on the halfway line with a genuine attempt to win the ball. Undiano booked four other players before half-time and it was hard to say that any of them were necessary decisions. It took Serbia little more than a minute to capitalise on Germany’s misfortune, with Jovanovic the beneficiary. Milos Krasic crossed from the by-line on the right and Nikola Zigic headed down at the far post for the unmarked Jovanovic to finish from six yards. Germany nearly equalised in first-half stoppage time but Sami Khedira’s volley crashed off the bar after Vladimir Stojkovic had punched a short corner routine straight to the midfielder.
Podolski had three chances in as many minutes just before the hour, first dragging wide after Mesut Ozil had played him in and then lashing into the side netting from another Ozil pass. The third chance was easily the best opportunity, coming from the penalty spot after Nemanja Vidic handled a cross in the area. Podolski’s spot-kick was tame, and Stojkovic pushed it away. Serbia almost made it 2-0 after 66 minutes when Krasic tricked his way into the area before laying off to Jovanovic who curled against the post. The woodwork came to Germany’s aid again minutes later as Zigic rose to head Krasic’s cross on to the top of the bar.
After the 2010 World Cup opened with some superb refereeing displays, it was disappointing to see such a fussy referee as the Spaniard Undiano ruin the game with his needless card waving. It is hard to see the difference between Klose’s two supposed offences and many other challenges that went unpunished. His flurry of awarding yellow cards in the first-half appeared to be as a result of him making a rod for his own back by giving out one soft yellow, meaning he had to be consistent and keep awarding them. Thankfully, he was not too consistent or there would have been no-one left on the pitch considering how tame Klose’s challenges were.
Before being given a man advantage, there had been signs of an improved Serbian performance from their first match with Ghana without making significant impact on the German goal. Radomir Antic altered his formation to include an extra midfielder at the expense of striker Marko Pantelic, a reaction to seeing his central midfield overrun by the Ghanaian trio. Zigic was left alone up front, ironically against a centre-half who could rival him for height for the second game in a row. After coming up against Ghana’s Isaac Vorsah, he was now up against Per Mertesacker, but Zigic made every inch count to head an assist for the winning goal.
Despite being reduced to 10 men, there was still plenty of endeavour by the Germans as they looked to get back into the match. The Serbian goal came barely 60 seconds after Klose was dismissed at a time when Germany were still reorganising their pack. Yet it was Germany who managed more opportunities to get back on level terms than Serbia created to seal their win. After Podolski’s fierce strike against Australia, he would have been expected to take at least one of his numerous openings, and it was a real surprise that his penalty was so tamely struck. In truth, Podolski looked more like the player who barely found the net all season for FC Koln rather than the striker who has scored 39 times for his country, but it was testament to the fight in Germany that they still created plenty of chances for him to take his tally to 40. Joachim Low was positive with his substitutions, sending on fresh legs in attack as well as sacrificing a defender for an extra striker.
A victory for Germany could have seen them confirmed as qualifying for the Round of 16 on Saturday, depending on the result between Ghana and Australia, but instead they will have to get a result against the Ghanaians in their final game on Wednesday. One factor that is in their favour is Low’s decision to pack his squad with strikers. He will have little trouble finding a suitable replacement for Klose but it was in today’s match that the striker was really missed. Germany should never have found themselves a man short and they would have fancied themselves to go on and win the game had they been allowed to keep their full complement of players. Serbia looked a better side than in their first game but still will have some concerns. Stojkovic may have saved Podolski’s penalty but he looked shaky on several occasions. It is a real worry that they have given away penalties in both games for needless handballs and shows that the lesson has not been learnt after Ghana scored their winning goal from the spot.
Germany – Neuer – Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Badstuber (Gomez 77) – Muller (Marin 70), Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Podolski – Ozil (Cacau 70), Klose
Serbia – Stojkovic – Ivanovic, Vidic, Subotic, Kolarov – Krasic, Stankovic, Kuzmanovic (Petrovic 75), Ninkovic (Kacar 69), Jovanovic (Lazovic 79) – Zigic