International Friendlies

Socceroo heartbreak: Podolski denies Aussie win

The Socceroos have gone within a whisker of upsetting Germany with a late Lukas Podolski goal salvaging a 2-2 draw for the world champions in Kaiserslautern on Thursday morning (AEDT).

Ange Postecoglou’s side looked on track for a famous win when Asian Cup hero James Troisi and skipper Mile Jedinak scored the goals either side of the break to cancel out Marco Reus’ early opener.

But Podolski scored nine minutes from time to spare Die Mannschaft’s blushes and deny Australia what would have been a huge win and their second in a row against the Germans following the 2-1 triumph in 2011.

At the Fritz-Walter Stadion - the scene of the Socceroos’ most-famous World Cup win in 2006 – the under-strength Aussies took the game to the hosts and had a host of chances to win the match.

While they will be disappointed not to have held on, there are plenty of positives for Postecoglou to take heading towards Tuesday’s next friendly against FYR Macedonia.

Brisbane Roar’s Luke DeVere was handed his debut as one of five changes to side that won the Asian Cup.

Troisi, Nathan Burns, Matt McKay and Alex Wilkinson also started in place of injured Tim Cahill, Matthew Spiranovic and Robbie Kruse, while Massimo Luongo and Trent Sainsbury weren't quite fully fit.

With a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia early next week, German coach Joachim Loew kept the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Bastien Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller on the bench but Reus, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze all started.

In an emotional start to the evening, the game was preceded by a minute's silence for the victims of the Germanwings plane crash, while both sets of players wore black armbands.

It was the Socceroos who started on the front foot with the new-look attack of Mathew Leckie and Nathan Burns both squandering glorious chances inside the first 13 minutes.

First Leckie wrong-footed German defender Benedikt Howedes but could only drag his shot across the face of goal, before Burns headed wide from close range just minutes later.

The close calls seemed to wake the home side up and they showed their class by taking the lead soon after.

Sami Khedira robbed Jedinak of possession on halfway and surged forward, getting to the Australian box before playing a deft ball to Reus, who slid and got a touch just in front of Mat Ryan to score.

Another Jedinak turnover almost gifted Reus his second six minutes later but the Borussia Dortmund man fired his one-on-one chance into the side-netting.

Leckie’s pace was causing the German defence all sorts of problems, while the Socceroo skipper almost redeemed himself with a long-range shot which drew a fine save from Ron-Robert Zieler.

Socceroo midfielder Matt McKay fights for the ball against Germany.

While Australia’s enterprise and attacking approach had seen them create some good opportunities, they needed something to show for their encouraging display.

And Troisi delivered just before the break.

The German defence switched off at a throw-in, allowing Burns the space to wriggle free, get in a cross from the left which the Zulte Waregem attacker headed home powerfully.

It was no more than the Socceroos deserved and things got even better five minutes into the second half.

Troisi was again involved, some fancy footwork on the edge of the box drawing a foul to win a free-kick in a dangerous position.

And Jedinak made it count, curling a free-kick over the wall and inside the post, with Zieler unable to keep it out despite getting a glove on it.

The Aussies were in front and had the world champions rocking and could sense a huge shock was on the cards.

Socceroos players celebrate Mile Jedinak's goal against Germany.

Only the width of a post denied Leckie a third 20 minutes from time after a lightning counter-attack ended with the striker heading Tommy Oar’s cross against the woodwork.

By this stage both sides had made a host of changes and it was a couple German substitutes that combined for the equaliser.

Andre Schurrle surged into the Australian box down the left before cutting it back to Podolski who tucked it in at the far post.

The Socceroos were denied a famous win but showed the world they are an emerging force ahead of qualifiers for Russia 2018.

Germany 2 (M. Reus 17', L. Podolski 81')

Australia 2 (J. Troisi 40', M. Jedinak 50')

Attenedence: 47,106 at Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern

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