Soccer / World Cup qualifiers / Germany hangs on for 2-1 win in Austria, Serbs crush Wales
Victory left Serbia on four points from two games after Saturday's goalless stalemate in Scotland.
The Germans survived a torrid first half against neighboring Austria before Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil scored either side of halftime to give them a 2-1 win in their 2014 World Cup qualifier yesterday.
Germany clung on for three points and only won after Marko Arnautovic missed a great chance for the hosts in the 87th minute. Reus burst down the left, cut inside Gyorgy Garics and buried a low shot past Robert Almer three minutes before the break after the feisty hosts, fielding nine Bundesliga-based players, had looked capable of producing an upset.
Ozil, scorer of two goals in the 3-0 win over Faroe Islands on Friday, converted a penalty after Veli Kavlak recklessly clattered into Thomas Mueller.
The Austrians, playing their opening match in Group C, refused to lie down, and Zlatko Junuzovic pulled one back in the 57th minute, turning the ball in after Arnautovic sent a low cross into the goalmouth.
Meanwhile, Serbia gave its new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic his first taste of success as left back Aleksandar Kolarov inspired an impressive 6-1 home rout of Wales in a World Cup Group A qualifier yesterday.
The victory left Serbia on four points from two games after Saturday's goalless stalemate in Scotland, which came on the back of three defeats and a draw in friendlies.
Having come under fire for tepid performances that produced only one goal in five games, Mihajlovic reshuffled his youthful team and the tactic paid dividends in Vojvodina Novi Sad's acoustic Karadjordje stadium in front of a capacity 15,000 crowd.
Kolarov fired the home side ahead when he curled a delightful free kick from 18 meters over the wall past the despairing dive of Wales keeper Glyn Myhill in the 16th minute. The Manchester City player turned provider eight minutes later after muscling his way past two defenders to the touchline and squaring the ball for Serbia captain Zoran Tosic to steer it home from close range.
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Gareth Bale, who started on the right flank but quickly switched to the more familiar left, gave a colorful band of 500 Welsh fans something to cheer about when he halved Serbia's lead with a brilliant free kick. His stinging and swerving shot from 25 meters left Serbia keeper Vladimir Stojkovic rooted to his line as it almost ripped the netting in his top right corner. But Welsh joy was short-lived as Serbia quickly restored their two-goal advantage.
A pair of 20-year-olds carved the visitors open with a slick move as winger Dusan Tadic released Filip Djuricic with a lovely through ball and the striker buried his shot into the roof of the net after rounding Adam Matthews.
The Serbians kept the upper hand after the break; their incessant attacks soon bore fruit as Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic raced down the right flank and delivered a perfect low cross for Tadic, who swept the ball past Myhill.
Ivanovic capped his own outstanding performance in the 80th minute with a rasping low shot from the edge of the box with his weaker left foot to delight the home fans, who sang incessantly to the beats of a giant drum. Substitute Miralem Sulejmani, making his first appearance after recovering from a long-term injury, put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute with a deflected effort from 20 meters, which caught Myhill stranded.
Stanislav Manolev scored his second goal in the World Cup qualifying campaign as Bulgaria labored to a 1-0 win over Armenia in a Group B match featuring three red cards.
The only goal came two minutes before the interval when Manolev, who also struck in Friday's 2-2 draw at home to Italy, turned in a cross from captain Ivelin Popov, who had dribbled past 39-year-old right back Sargis Hovsepyan.
Bulgaria almost doubled its lead in added time as substitute Dimitar Rangelov was thwarted by advancing Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky.