World champions Germany have given Australia a reminder of their place in football’s pecking order with a 3-2 win at the Confederations Cup.
The Socceroos fought back from a decidedly dicey opening half when Tom Rogic scored another belter to cancel out Lars Stindl’s opener.
Julian Draxler’s penalty and Leon Goretzka’s goal which came minutes either side of halftime sealed Australia’s fate, although Tomi Juric did scramble home a consolation goal.
The best and worst of Ange Postecoglou’s side was on display in Sochi.
The opening half-hour saw Australia on the ropes, with Stindl’s fifth-minute opener bringing fears of a thrashing.
The 28-year-old found an acre of space to volley Julian Brandt’s cut-back past Mat Ryan and the inattentive back three.
But Germany’s failure to cash in on early chances allowed Rogic to rifle home a 41st minute equaliser.
The Canberran – clearly Australia’s best player – kept his composure to score at the second attempt from long range, after his first was blocked – to shock the 28,605 at the Olympic Stadium.
Parity lasted all of three minutes.
An out-of-sorts Massimo Luongo lunged at man-of-the-match Goretzka in the box and Draxler’s penalty ensured Germany went into the halftime break ahead once more.
Two minutes after the break, a dazzling through-ball from Joshua Kimmich put Goretzka through to thrash past Ryan at close range.
Then, an Australian lifeline.
Another fine Rogic run drew a free-kick, which Juric scrambled home when goalkeeper Bernd Leno fumbled.
But there was to be no off-the-canvas third for Postecoglou’s side, which finished stronger but left themselves too much to do.
“It’s no fault of the players to be fair to them. They stuck to our principles,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s a loss and it falls on me. It’s my responsibility.
“We did at least crawl back into the game. The second half was better … they composed themselves a little bit.
“It’s just disappointing. I didn’t come here to lose games. Unfortunately we lost tonight.”
Australia faces Cameroon in a must-win second match on Thursday (Friday 1am AEST) in Saint Petersburg and Postecoglou foreshadowed personnel changes.
“We’ve got to travel now and we’ve got a day less rest than Cameroon,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure everyone recovers well. I don’t think there are any injuries at this stage. We’ll make some decisions (on changes) in the next 48 hours.”
The first-up loss makes it difficult to see Australia getting out of the group, with taxing matches against Cameroon and group leader Chile to come.