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Australia stuns Germany, 2-1, in soccer exhibition

Australia wins in Dortmund eight months after losing by four goals to Germany in the World Cup. Spain and the Netherlands remain perfect in qualifying for the European Championship.

March 29, 2011|By Grahame L. Jones

Australia, which was on the receiving end of a 4-0 drubbing by Germany at the World Cup last summer, turned the tables on international soccer's third-ranked team by defeating the Germans, 2-1, in Dortmund on Tuesday.

The game was only a friendly but the result nevertheless sent shockwaves through Germany, which reached the World Cup semifinals in South Africa only eight months ago.

"This is great for the future of the game in our country," Australia's captain, Lucas Neill, told Agence France Press. "By knocking off big teams we keep surprising ourselves … and give the young lads an amazing platform to build on. This will make us stronger.

"It's a huge win. We have come away with an historic and amazing victory."

Australia, which finished second behind Japan in the Asian Cup in January, is coached by Holger Osieck, an assistant coach under Franz Beckenbauer on Germany's 1990 World Cup-winning team.

"It would have been presumptuous before the game to believe that we could win," Osieck said. "But we just got better and better in the second half."

Mario Gomez gave Germany the lead after 26 minutes, but second-half goals four minutes apart by David Carney and Luke Wilkshire, the latter on a penalty kick, earned the Socceroos their unlikely triumph.

Germany Coach Joachim Loew, who opted not to field a full-strength team, called the result "a little unfortunate," adding that "in the second half we threw the game away."

Australia might have been inspired in part by a disdainful remark made on the eve of the match by former German international Uli Hoeness, the outspoken president of Bayern Munich.

"A match between Bayern's A and B teams is more intense" than a game with Australia, Hoeness said.

In another surprise result in an international friendly, England was held to a 1-1 tie Tuesday in front of 80,102 at London's Wembley Stadium by Ghana, which snatched the draw on a 91st-minute goal by Asamoah Gyan after Andy Carroll had scored his first international goal for England two minutes before halftime.

Also surprised was Russia, which traveled to Doha to play a friendly against Qatar in a match pitting the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host nations.

Russia is ranked No. 13 in the world. Qatar is ranked No. 90. The result, though, was a 1-1 tie, with defender Mohammed Kosola heading Qatar in front after four minutes and Roman Pavlyuchenko tying it up for Russia a half-hour later.

"I couldn't get the necessary commitment from my players tonight nor in our previous match," said Russia's Dutch coach, Dick Advocaat, referring to a 1-1 tie with Iran in another friendly last month. "I'm very disappointed with the result here."

Italy, meanwhile, got goals from New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi and Alessandro Matri as it shut out Ukraine, 2-0, in a friendly in Kyiv.

In Paris, winger Franck Ribery returned to Les Bleus for the first time since the debacle of France's 2010 World Cup campaign and was jeered and then cheered by fans at the Stade de France as the hosts played to a 0-0 friendly tie with Croatia.

"I was expecting to be booed," Ribery said. "I am very happy with the crowd's good reaction. It gave me more confidence."

While those five games drew plenty of attention, there was more focus Tuesday on the performance of two top teams that are on course to compete in the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next year.

World and European champion Spain traveled to Lithuania and came away with a 3-1 victory that keeps it unbeaten and untied in qualifying for Euro 2012.

Goals by Xavi and Juan Mata and an own goal by Lithuania's Tabas Kijanskas kept the Spanish perfect with five wins out of five.

The Netherlands, runners-up to Spain in the World Cup, kept pace and also remains unbeaten and untied with six wins out of six after overcoming Hungary, 5-3, in a vibrant, see-saw match in front of 51,776 in Amsterdam.

Dirk Kuyt scored twice for the Dutch while Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Rudd van Nistelrooy also grabbed goals. Four of the goals came in the last half hour in a game that saw the lead change hands three times.

"Matches like this you won't see often," said Dutch Coach Bert van Marwijk.

It was "attractive for the crowd with lots of goals, but it was very tough," he added, noting that "our game became inaccurate and careless and that gave them [the Hungarian players] the feeling something was possible tonight."

Kuyt's two late goals erased that notion.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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