Australia outgunned by Germany

Australia has received a massive reality check in its opening game of the 2010 World Cup, completely overwhelmed by Germany, which prevailed 4-0 in Durban.

By Bren O'Brien in Durban

Australia has received a massive reality check in its opening game of the 2010 World Cup, completely overwhelmed by Germany, which prevailed 4-0 in Durban.

It is hard to imagine how Australia's World Cup could have started on a poorer note. Not only did the Qantas Socceroos leak four goals - two in each half - but midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off and will miss the next game against Ghana in Rustenburg on Saturday. Given the massive goal difference Australia has conceded in its opening match, the next encounter looms as a must-win, with Ghana already on three points after earlier defeating Serbia 1-0 in Pretoria.

The massive Australian contingent in the crowd of 62.660 at the newly-built Moses Mabhida Stadium went home disappointed and wondering if the Qantas Socceroos can perform one of the biggest turnarounds in World Cup history.

Australia could have taken a valuable lead inside the first four minutes. From Luke Wilkshire's cross, Cahill flicked on and after Lucas Neill scotched his shot, the ball fell to Richard Garcia. Garcia's effort was blocked by Lahm close to the line.

From then on, it was all Germany in the first half, with Mirosalv Klose's first shot parried before a busy Mesut Ozil had his shot deflected over. Germany's pace out wide was causing Australia all sorts of problems and it wasn't surprising that the opening goal on eight minutes came from a cross.

Thomas Müller slipped the offside trap and his cross ran through the box to a charging Lukas Podolksi at the far post. The shot was low and fierce and all Mark Schwarzer could do was knock it into the top of the net. Australia had a couple of half-chances in the aftermath of the opening goal with Jason Culina heading over from a Brett Emerton cross before Garcia slapped a good chance well wide,

But Germany was creating opportunities of our quality and Klose should have scored when put through on Mark Schwarzer. He made up for that on 26 minutes, when Philipp Lahm put in a sublime cross which forced Schwarzer off his line. Klose rose to meet it ahead of the keeper and found the net for this 11th World Cup goal. Before the half would end, Ozil could have collected a brace. The 21-year-old's pace was too much for the Australian defence to handle and only Neill's desperate clearance off the line prevented him from scoring. The young Werder Bremen star then had only himself to blame when he rounded Schwarzer but toed the ball over the byline.

Brett Holman replaced Vince Grella at the break and worked enough space to create an opening for himself early in the second half, but shot wide. But the crucial moment of the second half came on 56 minutes when Cahill lunged in on Bastian Schweinstieger and earned a straight red card.

The deflating effect on the Australian team was immediate and Klose was closing in on another goal. Twice he went close, while a busy Schwarzer also denied Podolski.

But the impressive Müller found a way past the experienced Australian keeper on 68 minutes, hitting a powerful shot to make it 3-0.

Facing a forlorn task, Pim Verbeek sent Nikita Rukavytsya and Mile Jedinak late on, but Germany was up for blood and had a fourth on 70 minutes. The brilliant Ozil put a clever ball through for substitute Cacau, who could hardly miss from point blank range.

Content with its efforts, Germany sat back in the final minutes. Rukavytsya could have got himself a consolation, but was unable to finish a good chance as Australia crashed to its worst defeat at a World Cup.

Australia 0 Germany 4 (Podolski 8, Klose 26, Müller 68, Cacau 70)

At Moses Mabhida Stadium