NELSPRUIT - Goals from Tim Cahill and
Brett Holman gave Australia a 2-1 victory over Serbia as both
teams bowed out of the World Cup but the Serbians were left
claiming they had been robbed of a last 16 berth by the referee.
Serbia would have gone through to the knock-out stages of
the tournament if they had grabbed a late equaliser. In the
dying minutes of the game, Cahill appeared to handle the ball in
the box, and the Serbians screamed for a penalty.
But Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda waved them away, and
was surrounded by angry Serbian players after he blew the final
Serbian coach Radomir Antic was also upset his team had two
goals disallowed, one of which he claimed was "definitely not
"We did not get fair treatment, we deserved more than we got
and we have to go home now," Antic said.
"The ref had a black
day when it came to Serbia. The referee and the fourth official
did not want to see a foul that was quite obvious. We are angry
when it came to this decision."
With Germany beating Ghana 1-0 in the evening's other match,
Australia finished level on four points with the Africans. But
their goal difference was worse than Ghana's and that condemned
them to a third place finish.
Serbia finished bottom of the group with three points.
Despite needing to score goals, the Socceroos were strangely
subdued in the first half and the Serbians were totally in
Milos Krasic squandered their first chance, rounding Mark
Schwarzer in the Australian goal after 12 minutes before skewing
his shot wide and high.
Schwarzer produced a fine reflex save to block a close range
effort from Branislav Ivanovic midway through the half, and 10
minutes later the giant figure of Nikola Zigic should have
scored when left unmarked inside the box, but glanced his header
well wide of goal.
The pacy Krasic, who was a menace on the Serbian right flank
all evening, slipped though the Aussie defence after 38 minutes
and squeezed the ball under Schwarzer into the net, but his
effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
Australians heads were down as they trooped into the
dressing room at half time, but they came out fighting after the
Mark Bresciano tested Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic
with a long-range shot on the hour and in the 69th minute
Cahill, back in the side after missing the last match through
suspension, put his side ahead.
Mark Wilkshire swung in a cross from the Australian right
and Cahill met it with a firm header that gave Stojkovic no
Four minutes later the Australians doubled their lead -
second half substitute Holman blasting home a shot from outside
the box - and for a moment it seemed like Pim Verbeek's side
might pull off one of the great escape acts of the World Cup.
With thousands of yellow-shirted fans roaring them on from
the stands, the Australians poured forward in search of more
But inevitably they left themselves exposed and in the 84th
minute Serbia pulled one back, Marko Pantelic taking advantage
of a rare Schwarzer fumble to stab the ball home from close
That changed the emphasis of the tie and suddenly it was the
Serbs who had a chance of qualifying.
But when the referee turned down their penalty appeal, their
final chance of a place in the last 16 disappeared from the
Australia's victory will have gone some way to restoring
their battered pride after a difficult World Cup campaign marred
by two red cards.
The Serbians will leave South Africa with a momentous win
over Germany to show for their efforts, but very little else.
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010