[GROUP D] Germany's young team downed Ghana, 1-0, but the Black Stars became the first African team to reach the second round of this World Cup thanks to
Australia’s 2-1 win over Serbia. Here's what we liked and didn't like from Wednesday's Group D action …
What we liked …
-- With the youngest squad it has taken to a World Cup since 1934, Germany reached the round of 16 with a 1-0 win over Ghana on a goal by 21-year-old Mesut Ozil, who nailed a 20-yard half-volley past keeper Richard Kingson in the 60th minute. Ozil was supported in midfield by Sami Khedira (21 years old) and flanked by Thomas Mueller (20). The backline included Jerome Boateng (21). Midfielder Toni Kroos (20) was a late sub. German captain Philipp Lahm is 26.
-- Ghana continues shine only in spurts, but despite its loss to Germany, it reached to the round of 16 for a date with the USA on Saturday. Ghana, with four points, edged Australia on goal difference and became the first African nation to advance. Ivory Coast is a long shot to make it two out of six for the continent.
-- Australia’s Tim Cahill returned from red-card suspension and gave the Aussies a 1-0 lead over Serbia that Brett Holman extended with a long-range drive in their 2-1 win. But the Socceroos’ 4-0 loss in their opener against Germany gave them a goal difference inferior to second-place Ghana. At least the team that played short-handed for 100 minutes of its first two games ended on a high note.
What we didn’t like …
-- After a win over Germany in its second game, who would have thought Serbia couldn’t take advantage of winless Australia to book a second round spot? Instead, the Serbs again failed to advance in their second World Cup appearance since the breakup of Yugoslavia.
-- Germany’s elder statesman, 25-year-old defensive midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, was subbed with 10 minutes left because of a thigh problem that jeopardizes his appearance against England on Sunday.
-- Serbia coach Radomir Antic blamed the officiating after his team’s elimination: “The referee had a black day against Serbia. The first offside with Milos Krasic wasn’t offside.” And he claimed a handball on Cahill should have been called in the waning minutes for a penalty kick that would have given the Serbs a chance at the 2-2 tie that would have taken them through.