Australia have defeated Serbia 2-1 in Nelspruit but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the knockout phase of the 2010 World Cup.
With Germany beating Ghana 1-0 in the other Group D match, the Socceroos finished third despite being on equal points with Ghana. An inferior goal difference cause by the 4-0 loss to Germany did the Aussies no favours and their run in the South African World Cup has come to an end.
Australia: 2 (Tim Cahill 69’, Brett Holman 73’)
Serbia: 1 (Marko Pantelic 84’)
Venue: Mbombela Stadium - Nelspruit
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (URU)
Yellow cards: AUS - Michael Beauchamp 49’, Luke Wilkshire 50’, Brett Emerton 67’
SRB - Aleksandar Lukovic 18’, Milos Ninkovic 59’
Australia were enjoying much more of the possession in the early stages but did not look too threatening in the final third as opposed to Serbia who had Milos Krasic causing plenty of problems with his pace and energy.
Serbia had the better of the scoring chances although the Socceroos were spending slightly more time on the ball but besides a good save from Mark Schwarzer in the 23rd minute from a close Branislav Ivanovic volley, neither goalkeeper had a whole lot to do.
The tide started to turn as the half progressed with Serbia starting to take control of the possession stats whilst Australia were looking more menacing when in attack but the opening 45 minutes produced no goals.
The first real chance of the second half came in the 52nd minute when the Australian defence became isolated against the Serbian forwards and the towering Nikola Zigic was able to find space and control with his chest before flashing his volley over the crossbar.
Australia went about trying their luck from long range with a few speculative shots but none better than Mark Bresciano’s bouncing free-kick which produced a quality save from Serbian stopper Vladimir Stojkovic just before the hour-mark.
Stojkovic was called on to make another great save a couple of minutes later when Bresciano unleashed from outside the area but he was equal to the task and Australia were certainly playing with more confidence and intent.
Australia then got their reward in the 69th minute when Wilkshire sent a dangerous ball into the area which was superbly nodded home by the Socceroos main man Tim Cahill.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 to Australia when Brett Holman ran at the Serbian defence and let rip with a 25-yard strike that took a bounce and whizzed past Stojkovic to give Pim Verbeek’s men some hope to make it through to the Round of 16.
The attacking didn’t stop and Serbia got one back when Zoran Tosic had a crack from way out and Schwarzer could only parry it as far as substitute Marko Pantelic who was on hand to finish with the easiest of tap-ins in the 84th minute.
Josh Kennedy missed a late chance after a great first touch as Australia chased more goals but nothing came of it as Serbia searched for an equaliser but the match ended 2-1 and both nations had their time in the 2010 World Cup ended.
Mark Schwarzer (gk), Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Michael Beauchamp, Brett Emerton, Luke Wilkshire (Garcia 82’), Josh Kennedy, Carl Valeri (Holman 66’), David Carney, Mark Bresciano (Chipperfield 66’)
Subs - Brett Holman (66’), Scott Chipperfield (66’), Richard Garcia (82’)
Vladimir Stojkovic (gk), Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Dejan Stankovic, Aleksandar Lukovic, Milan Jovanovic, Nikola Zigic (Pantelic 67’), Ivan Obradovic, Milos Krasic (Tosic 62’), Milos Ninkovic, Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Lazovic 77’)
Subs - Zoran Tosic (62’), Marko Pantelic (67’), Danko Lazovic (77’)