Sunday 21 January 2018

Serbia rue Pantelic miss as Aussies save face

AUSTRALIA duly delivered the win they needed, but not by the number of goals necessary to reach the knockout stages. Like hosts South Africa against France the night before, Australia's train powered up too late.

After taking a two-goal lead in the second half through Tim Cahill and Brett Holman, Australia still needed a two-goal swing in the other Group D game in Johannesburg, where Germany were leading Ghana by a goal. But the swing came here, with substitute Marko Pantelic slotting home for Serbia with six minutes to go.

That did not stop Australia piling forward in a frenzied finish. Joshua Kennedy was unlucky to see his shot slip by a post. That would have been hard on Serbia, who were the better team until Cahill headed home in the 70th minute with typical power.

Against the run of play, Australia's second goal then arrived with an emphatic 25-yard screamer from Holman.

Pantelic slotted home after a scramble, but then missed a glorious late chance to send Serbia into the World Cup second round.

The furious Serbians surrounded the referee at the final whistle after he denied them a penalty following a handball by Cahill off Nemanja Vidic's header.

Australia -- Schwarzer, Neill, Beauchamp, Emerton, Carney, Cahill, Culina, Wilkshire (Garcia 82), Valeri (Holman 65), Bresciano (Chipperfield 66), Kennedy.

Serbia -- Stojkovic, Vidic, Ivanovic, Lukovic, Obradovic, Stankovic, Jovanovic, Krasic (Tosic 62), Ninkovic, Kuzmanovic (Lazovic 77), Zigic (Pantelic 67).

REF -- J Larrionda (Uruguay).

Irish Independent

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