Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacts after conceding the second Austrian goal
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacts after conceding the second Austrian goal

WC favourites hit shocking 30-year low as Roos rivals stall

GERMANY are on their worst winless run since 1988 after going down to Austria for the first time in 32 years in the latest round of pre-World Cup friendlies.

Its the worst possible timing for the defending champions, with the World Cup just two weeks away - as goals from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schoepf saw the Austrians to a 2-1 win after Mesut Ozil opened the scoring.

Elsewhere England picked up a 2-1 win over Nigeria, with new skipper Harry Kane and Gary Cahill on the scoresheet for the Three Lions. Arsenal's Alex Iwobi found the net for the Super Eagles.

 

Socceroos rivals Denmark were held to a 0-0 draw by Sweden, while Belgium and Portugal also played out a scoreless draw.

 

HERE'S A FULL WRAP OF THE OVERNIGHT ACTION INVOLVING WORLD CUP SIDES...

 

AUSTRIA 2-1 GERMANY

Manuel Neuer played his first match since September as Germany was beaten 2-1 by Austria in its penultimate warmup game for the World Cup on Saturday.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper, who has recovered from a hairline fracture in his left foot, played the entire match but couldn't prevent the world champions, who were missing several regulars, from losing for the second straight game after a 1-0 defeat to Brazil in March.

Austria's players celebrate scoring
Austria's players celebrate scoring

Coach Joachim Loew gave Neuer a chance of proving his fitness for the tournament in Russia, two days before he has to announce his final 23-man squad for the World Cup.

"It was a good comeback after such a long time. He had two, three excellent saves," Loew said about Neuer, who played his 75th international game but first since Oct. 2016.

"I will talk to Manuel tomorrow. He hasn't had problems in the match or in training this week," the coach added.

It was Germany's first defeat against neighboring Austria in 32 years, and it left the team still winless in 2018 after three games.

Germany plays Saudi Arabia in its last warmup game Friday before starting its World Cup title defense against Mexico on June 17. Group F also includes Sweden and South Korea.

Loew rested key players Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller, who all didn't travel with the team to Austria from its training base in South Tyrol, Italy.

Germany still dominated the first half, and took the lead after 11 minutes when Mesut Ozil picked up a failed clearance by Joerg Siebenhandl and scored with a curling shot past the Austria goalkeeper.

It was Ozil's first match in more than four weeks as the Arsenal midfielder had recovered from a back injury. He played for 76 minutes before being replaced by Julian Draxler.

Germany nearly doubled its lead in the 20th when Julian Brandt broke through after a quick combination between Joshua Kimmich and debutant Nils Petersen, but the Leverkusen midfielder had his low shot saved by Siebenhandl.

Austria's striker Marko Arnautovic (L) and Germany's defender Niklas Suele vie for the ball
Austria's striker Marko Arnautovic (L) and Germany's defender Niklas Suele vie for the ball

Neuer had his first save in the 14th minute when he dived to catch a diagonal shot by Austria midfielder Alessandro Schoepf. And Neuer was quick to react and deny Florian Grillitsch when the Austria midfielder tried to beat him at the near post in the 31st.

But in the second half, he could not do much about Austria's equalizer as Martin Hinteregger volleyed in at the back post from a high and curling corner kick by David Alaba in the 53rd.

Neuer saved an effort from close range by Marko Arnautovic just minutes later but wasn't to blame for Schoepf's winning goal in the 69th after an excellent team move that split open the German defense.

"This defeat annoys me. We didn't execute many things we had planned," Loew said. "We lost the ball too many times where we could have created a scoring opportunity. Today many things were bad. We won't fool ourselves. We have a lot to work on over the next two weeks." It was Austria's fifth win in five matches under coach Franco Foda, who took over from Marcel Koller in November after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup.

"It's always great to win, especially against Germany. In the first half we were too passive but in the second half we did much better," Schoepf said. The match was delayed for more than 100 minutes after torrential rain and hail had made the pitch unplayable at the scheduled start time.

 

Germany's forward Marco Reus (R) and Austria's defender Martin Hinteregger vie for the ball
Germany's forward Marco Reus (R) and Austria's defender Martin Hinteregger vie for the ball

ENGLAND 2-1 NIGERIA

England relied on goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane before slackening in the second half to beat Nigeria 2-1 in a World Cup warmup match on Saturday.

On his first England appearance since October, Cahill headed in the opener in the seventh minute from Kieran Trippier's corner in front of 70,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Raheem Sterling set up Kane to double England's lead in the 39th before Alex Iwobi reduced the deficit in the opening two minutes of the second half.

After a week in the headlines over a gun tattoo and returning late for England duty, Sterling courted more controversy when he was booked for simulation for hitting the ground all too easily as goalkeeper Francis Uzoho came off his line to claim the ball.

"I had a decision to make whether to play him after turning up late," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "But, actually, that wasn't a decision after he started to come under fire from every other direction.

England's striker Harry Kane (L) celebrates with England's midfielder Dele Alli after scoring their second goal
England's striker Harry Kane (L) celebrates with England's midfielder Dele Alli after scoring their second goal

"It wasn't about getting a response. The most important thing I do in the next six weeks is protect the players. They respect each other and understand how important it is they support and protect each other." Sterling hopes to block out the criticism.

"People will see stuff in the wrong way," he told broadcaster ITV. "If I got left out I wouldn't have had any complaints because I had to meet up at 11 o'clock, flight got delayed and I was a bit late in the morning so I completely understand where he's (the manager) coming from."

England has another friendly against Costa Rica in Leeds on Thursday before Southgate's side opens its campaign in Russia against Tunisia on June 18. Nigeria, which was held by Congo on Monday, plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday before facing Croatia in its World Cup opener on June 16.

 

SWEDEN 0-0 DENMARK

Denmark continued their World Cup warm-up with a 0-0 draw against Sweden in Stockholm.

Spurs star Christian Eriksen missed the match for the Danes, as he awaits the birth of his first child back home.

The Danes will face the Socceroos in Group C in Russia, after completing their final preparation match against Mexico on June 10 AEST.

 

Sweden's defender Pontus Jansson (L) vies with Denmark's forward Martin Braithwaite
Sweden's defender Pontus Jansson (L) vies with Denmark's forward Martin Braithwaite

BELGIUM 0-0 PORTUGAL

Defender Vincent Kompany will require a scan to determine if he can play in the World Cup in Russia after injuring his groin during Belgium's goalless draw with Portugal in a friendly on Saturday.

The 32-year-old Kompany, a key part of Belgium's defence, abruptly left the pitch in the 55th minute of the match after appearing to hurt himself when lunging for the ball.

 

"You could feel that when he came off we were all very much worried," coach Roberto Martinez told a news conference, adding that it would probably take 48 hours to determine how serious the injury was.

"He said he felt discomfort in his groin when he walked off the pitch. He's not a young player, he knows his body. At that point it was the right time to come off," Martinez added.

The injury was the key talking point after Belgium's 0-0 draw with Portugal as both sides showed attacking intent but no killer blow less than two weeks before the World Cup begins.

Belgium will play further friendlies against Egypt on June 6 and Costa Rica on June 11. They open their World Cup campaign on June 18 against Panama, before also facing England and Tunisia in Group G.

Belgium's head coach Roberto Martinez (C) speaks with Belgium's Vincent Kompany as he leaves the pitch
Belgium's head coach Roberto Martinez (C) speaks with Belgium's Vincent Kompany as he leaves the pitch

 

ICELAND 2-3 NORWAY

World Cup bound Iceland suffered a blow in their preparations as they went down 3-2 to an unqualified Norway side.

The Norwegians, who smashed the Socceroos 4-1 in March, registered a win in the friendly care of goals to Bjorn Johnsen, Joshua King and Alexander Sorloth.

While the Icelandic side found the net through Alfred Finnbogason and Gylfi Sigurdsson,

 

Iceland's forward Alfred Finnbogason (C) and Norway's defender Kristoffer Ajer vie for the ball
Iceland's forward Alfred Finnbogason (C) and Norway's defender Kristoffer Ajer vie for the ball


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