Germany began their FIFA World Cup 2010 campaign with a convincing 4-0 win over ten man Australia in Group D.
Goals from Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller and Cacau gave the three times winners a perfect start.
Tim Cahill was controversially sent-off for the Aussies, but this did not affect the match as, in truth, it was a one-sided affair.
Australia raced out of the blocks and should have gone in front in the opening minutes. Tim Cahill’s free header was almost turned in by Richard Garcia, but Manuel Neuer made a point blank save.
The Germans were quickly in the game, however, and Miroslav Klose and Muller both had opportunities within seconds of each other.
They were not to be undone for long, though. Muller was played in behind the Aussie defence on the right hand side. He played in Podolski whose shot, despite Mark Schwarzer getting a hand to it, flew into the top left hand corner of the net.
It was the dream start to the game they were looking for and a huge blow to Australia, who had clearly looked to start the match well.
This seemed to inspire Germany, and they then started to dominate possession; with the impressive Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil at the heart of everything good that they did.
Podolski almost made it two-nil after only 22 minutes, but Muller’s excellent cross was just inches away from the striker’s boot.
And then Ozil sent Podolski through, who placed the ball onto a plate for Klose, but the Bayern Munich forward somehow managed to smash the ball wide.
But he put his side two goals up minutes later. Philipp Lahm’s wonderful cross from the right touchline was met by Klose, who headed the ball into an empty net as Schwarzer was found in no-man’s land.
It was the least they deserved, and, in truth, the match was effectively over before even half an hour was played.
Apart form Garcia, who continued to work hard up front, the Aussies looked understandably shocked at what they had just witnessed in front of them.
It could have been three with seven minutes left to play of the opening half through Sami Khedira, but his header was just over after some good play leading to another Lahm cross.
And then Ozil was played through by Podolski, but a heavy touch from the attacking midfielder took the ball away from him when rounding Schwarzer, resulting in a goal kick and a much needed rest bite for Australia.
A two goal deficit at half time flattered the Aussies, and they struggled to cope with the movement and pace of a young, but impressive German side.
Brett Holman came on for Grella at half-time, as their coach Pim Verbeek looked to set up a more attacking formation in the hope of clawing themselves back into the game.
And he created an opportunity by himself straight away. A nice shift onto his left foot allowed Holman to strike from 20 yards but finished just past the post. This was more encouraging for Australia, as at least they were competing in the match at long last.
But order was soon restored when a lovely move throughout the German team was ended by Muller’s strike finishing inches over the bar.
Cahill was then surprisingly red carded as the evening went from bad to worse. A late tackle on Schweinsteiger was deemed guilty enough for referee Marco Rodriguez to show a straight red card. It was harsh on Cahill and a yellow card would have been a more justified punishment.
It didn’t take long for Germany to take advantage of the extra man; not that they needed it. Klose missed a golden chance when one on one with Schwarzer, but the goalkeeper saved well. Podolski then tested the ‘keeper as the Germans upped their game even more.
Fantastic link up play between Klose and Podolski almost gave the former his second goal of the match. The pass was too powerful from Podolski, however, and the effort was difficult to control.
But Muller made the game safe with 67 minutes played. The youngster was found in acres of space around 20 yards to goal. He delightfully turned Chipperfield and shot through Neill’s legs, resulting in the ball to nestle into the far left hand corner of the net.
It was a great goal from a player who clearly has a massive future at the very highest level of the game.
And then just two minutes later Cacau made it four with an easy tap in after being found unmarked by Ozil only a few yards from goal.
The Brazilian-born German was only on the field for little over a minute, but the goal reinforced his side’s dominance and sent warning signals to the other contenders for the trophy.
Australia, while expected to lose but not by such a margin, will have to pick themselves up for the remaining two games if they are to have a chance of qualifying.
The game petered out at the end, as Germany moved down the gears. However, it was as near perfect you can possibly get and will surely secure their place among the favourites for the competition.
Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Badstuber, Lahm, Mertesacker, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil (Gomez), Podolski (Marin), Klose (Cacau), Muller.
Australia: Schwarzer, Neill, Moore, Emerton (Jedinak), Chipperfield, Cahill, Calina, Wilkshire, Grella (Holman), Valeri, Garcia (Rukavytsya).