Austria shock Germany in pre-World Cup friendly

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Klagenfurt (Austria), June 3 (IANS) World Cup holders Germany got a wake-up call as they lost 1-2 to Austria in their first warm-up tie before football’s quadrennial extravaganza kicks off in Russia from June 14.

The loss on Saturday evening was the last match before the final 23-man World Cup squad announcement on Monday, according to the German football federation’s website.

Following the draw, Germany have not won a game since October, drawing with England, France and Spain and losing to Brazil.

Germany led early on through Mesut Özil’s strike but second-half goals from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schöpf turned the match on its head and gave Austria, who will not be at the World Cup, a seventh successive victory.

Kick off was delayed by nearly 100 minutes due to heavy rain, meaning Germany captain Manuel Neuer had to wait even longer to make his long-awaited return to the pitch.

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A much-changed but strong German eleven took to the field in Klagenfurt, which as well as a return for Neuer saw striker Nils Petersen make his debut for Germany up front.

The world champions started well and deservedly took the lead through Özil, as the Arsenal attacking midfielder capitalised on a lapse at the back to bend home the opener.

Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt then had a chance to double the lead soon after, but couldn’t quite divert his volley on target from a tight angle.

At the other end, the back line was rarely troubled before the break, though Neuer had to be alert to pull off a smart save at his near post.

The game changed after half time however, as Austria pressed Germany more and more. The pressure told just eight minutes into the half, when Martin Hinteregger volleyed home unmarked from a corner.

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Boosted by the equaliser, Austria moved forward and got the lead in the 69th minute through Alessandro Schopf, who swept past Neuer after a cut-back from the right post.

Germany chief coach Joachim Loew said: “It’s a frustrating defeat because we didn’t implement a lot of what we had talked about.

“We played decent football at times in the first half, but then we just stopped clicking. We allowed Austria to put in crosses and get shots away. There’s a lot to digest.”

–IANS

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