Serbia pay the price
Serbia miss host of chances in 2-1 defeat to Australia
Last Updated: June 23, 2010 10:29pm
Cahill: Scored opener
Marko Pantelic spurned two glorious chances to put Serbia into the last 16 as his side slipped out of the World Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Australia.
The substitute had hauled his side back into the tie with an 84th minute goal but twice strayed needlessly offside as Serbia searched for a second goal.
Radomir Antic's side were made to pay the price for their profligacy in front of goal after missing a host of chances when dominating the first period.
The Serbs should have gone ahead in the 12th minute after Milos Krasic rounded Mark Schwarzer but sliced wide and high from an acute angle.
Branislav Ivanovic then saw his close-range effort brilliantly saved by the Fulham keeper, while Nikola Zigic headed wide from 10 yards.
But Australia improved after the break and Mark Bresciano drew a good save from Vladimir Stojkovic before Tim Cahill headed home from 15 yards on 69 minutes.
Four minutes later, substitute Brett Holman was allowed to run at goal before unleashing an unstoppable 30 yard effort.
Pantelic pulled one back but both sides were eliminated from the tournament after Germany's 1-0 win over Ghana.
Australia's effort dragged them off the bottom of the group but it was too little, too late as Ghana edged them out of the last 16 on goal difference.
It was a face-saving win for Australia that seemed barely likely in the first half as they struggled to cope with Serbia's pace and technical excellence.
Serbia had the first opportunity when Krasic, booed by Australia's sizeable following after a tumble in the box moments earlier, burst into the box and fired at Schwarzer from a tight angle.
Krasic had another chance after 12 minutes as Serbia broke quickly following an Australia corner.
Milos Ninkovic played him through with a superb pass but the CSKA Moscow star shot high and wide after rounding the advancing Schwarzer.
Serbia maintained the pressure and went close again when Zdravko Kuzmanovic shot across the face of goal.
Australia were struggling to handle the speed of the Serbian attacks and were grateful when Schwarzer stuck out an arm to deny Chelsea's Ivanovic from inside the six-yard box.
Pim Verbeek's side were limited to firing in crosses from deep but it was 32 minutes before Serbia failed to deal with one and Cahill headed his side's first good chance wide.
Australia were almost caught out by another slick Serbia move before the break but Krasic was marginally offside before flicking the ball past Schwarzer.
Australia began the second period with more purpose and won a free-kick after Cahill tangled with Nemanja Vidic. Bresciano drilled the set-piece in low but Zigic was back to clear.
Cahill also sliced a shot wide from a Josh Kennedy flick-on but the Socceroos remained vulnerable on the counter-attack.
Milan Jovanovic broke clear on the left and Zigic controlled his cross brilliantly only to shoot over.
Australia, again showing more intent, went close as Jason Culina drilled a low shot wide.
Bresciano then forced Stojkovic to make his first serious save from a low free-kick after Ninkovic was booked for a late tackle on Luke Wilkshire.
Kuzmanovic headed a good chance wide for Serbia but the Eastern Europeans were starting to look concerned.
They paid the price for their earlier profligacy as Wilkshire picked out Cahill with a superb cross in the 69th minute and the Everton star headed powerfully home in familiar fashion.
Serbia were rattled and Australia began to sense an unlikely opportunity as substitute Holman broke forward four minutes later and unleashed a ferocious shot that flew past Stojkovic from 30 yards.
Serbia grabbed a lifeline six minutes from time as Schwarzer spilled a long-range Zoran Tosic shot and fellow substitute Pantelic pounced from close range.
Pantelic then had the ball in the net but was given offside before straying needlessly offside once more when blazing over from close range in injury time.