Antic hails heroes as flying Serbs stun 10-man Germany

RADOMIR ANTIC dedicated his side’s stunning World Cup victory over Germany yesterday to the Serbian people as Group D was blown wide open.

Milan Jovanovic’s 38th-minute strike and a second-half penalty save from keeper Vladimir Stojkovic were enough to see off the 10-man Germans, who had striker Miroslav Klose sent off before the break for a second bookable offence.

Antic said: “This is a victory for our people, who for sure will know how to celebrate it.

“This team represents its people because it is energetic, it is ready to fight and to a certain extent, it is arrogant.

“What is certain is that Serbian people have recognised themselves in this team, so this is a victory dedicated to the Serbian people.”

Liverpool-bound Jovanovic put Serbia ahead two minutes after Klose had been dismissed, firing home after Birmingham new boy Nikola Zigic had headed down the impressive Milos Krasic’s cross.

But after Nemanja Vidic had needlessly handled inside the penalty area, Stojkovic dived to his left to keep out Lukas Podolski’s spot-kick on the hour and ensure a first win over Germany since 1962, when Serbia was part of the former Yugoslavia.

Stojkovic, who joined Wigan on loan from Sporting Lisbon in January, said: “After so many years, to win against Germany at the World Cup, it is quite something, and I think we deserved it.

“As a group, we have worked so hard over the last two years and this is the end result of what we have achieved over those two years.”

Germany arrived in Port Elizabeth having established themselves among the favourites to win the tournament once again following a crushing 4-0 defeat of the Socceroos in their first game, but with coach Joachim Low insisting he had not been completely satisfied by their performance in Durban.

Low’s mood will have darkened considerably after an opening 45 minutes at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium during which little went right for his team.

Podolski blasted a seventh-minute volley just wide, but in a largely uninspiring first half, the fireworks came in the last nine minutes.

Spanish referee Alberto Undiano had issued the first of six yellow cards to Klose for a foul on Branislav Ivanovic with just 12 minutes gone, and it was the Germany striker who also collected the final caution of the opening 45 minutes for a trip on Serbia skipper Dejan Stankovic.

Things were to deteriorate further for the Germans within two minutes when impressive winger Milos Krasic picked out 6ft 6in striker Nikola Zigic at the far post and he headed down for Jovanovic to control in front of goal and steer the ball past stranded Germany keeper Manuel Neuer.

Low’s men belatedly responded with midfielder Sami Khedira firing against the underside of the crossbar and Thomas Muller forcing a goal-line clearance from Aleksandar Kolarov with his follow-up in injury time, but Serbia held out.

Germany coach Low remained defiant in defeat as he turned his attention to Wednesday’s decisive showdown with Ghana in Johannesburg.

He said: “Of course we are disappointed now, we are devastated by this loss, but we have got the resolve and we have got the will to go through to the next round.

“I don’t think this is going to bog us down completely.”

GERMANY: Neuer, Lahm, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Badstuber (Gomez 77), Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Muller (Marin 70), Ozil (Cacau 70), Podolski, Klose.

SERBIA: Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Subotic, Vidic, Kolarov, Krasic, Ninkovic (Kacar 69), Kuzmanovic (Petrovic 75), Stankovic, Jovanovic (Lazovic 79), Zigic.

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain).

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