DURBAN, South Africa – For one night, the Beautiful Game belonged to Germany.
Known more as a methodical team than a brilliantly creative one such as Brazil, the Germans scored several lovely goals Sunday night in a 4-0 rout of Australia.
Germany scored two goals in each half and Australia’s Tim Cahill was sent off as the three-time champion surged to the top of Group D at the World Cup.
“I think the way we set up our attacks is something we’ve been working on intensively,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “But we’ve also worked on how we play off the ball – to move into unused space.
“We were very good on the ball tonight, and we created beautiful goals.”
Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose scored in the first 30 minutes as Australia coach Pim Verbeek’s defensive tactics backfired.
Thomas Mueller and Cacau also scored against an overwhelmed Australian defense in the second half after Cahill was red-carded in the 56th minute for a late tackle on Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The Germans’ dominant win, played in front of 62,660 fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, came without injured captain Michael Ballack.
“We earned respect for ourselves,” Klose said. “It was hugely important to win the first game, but nothing is won yet. We’re a young team and we have fun playing.”
Earlier Sunday, Asamoah Gyan scored on a penalty kick to give Ghana a 1-0 win over Serbia in the opening Group D match.
Germany had not lost an opening game in the World Cup since a 2-1 defeat to Algeria in 1982. It never looked like that string would be snapped on a warm evening in Durban.
Podolski started the rout by ending a slick passing move in the eighth minute and Klose headed in his 11th career World Cup goal in the 26th.
A stunned Verbeek sat on the bench shaking his head while Loew, in his 50th game as Germany coach, punched the air in celebration.
Hoping to hold out for a draw, Verbeek used Cahill as a forward and packed his midfield. But with Cahill isolated up front instead of controlling the midfield, Australia had no answer to Germany’s swift passing and running game.
“It was not an easy game for us,” Verbeek said. “We tried to make it very difficult for them and use our speed, but we didn’t have the ball in the first 20 minutes.”
Any slim hope Australia had of coming back evaporated with Cahill’s 56th-minute ejection.
Klose missed two more good chances before Mueller made it 3-0 in the 68th minute, dragging the ball back to avoid Scott Chipperfield’s lunge and firing a low shot in off the post.
Cacau rounded off the scoring in the 70th, just two minutes after coming on for Klose.
While Germany is in excellent shape for advancement already, the Socceroos are desperate.
“The next game is a final,” Verbeek said of the match with Ghana. “We have to win that game.”