World Champions Germany produced the expected result over Australia but the 3-2 scoreline might have been closer than they would have liked.
The 28,605 people should have been fully entertained by this encounter at Fisht Stadium in Sochi overnight with the majority willing an upset by the Socceroos.
In the end it was the top-ranked team in the Confederations Cup at number three in the FIFA rankings that got the result after taking the lead within the opening minutes.
For the Socceroos the match had a very similar pattern to their 3-2 success against Saudi Arabia in their most recent World Cup qualifier.
Ange Postecogou's men were outplayed in the first half of both games and, in this case, fortunate to be only 2-1 down at the interval.
Much like the match in Adelaide, the second half was far more evenly contested but, overall, Germany were well worth their win.
It left Postecoglou reflecting on a defeat in the first game of the tournament.
“Overall I’m just disappointed" he said post-match.
"We didn’t come here to lose games and unfortunately we lost tonight. In terms of the result, it’s a loss and a loss falls on me, it’s my responsibility.”
Germany’s coach, Joachim Loew, had emphasised to his side that defence was going to be an important aspect of the match so he would have been disappointed to see Australia score twice. It was Germany, though, that controlled most of the possession and could have had many more goals especially during a dominant first half
Australia started the game poorly. In their last match against Brazil, they conceded a goal within just 12 seconds and it didn’t take Germany a lot longer to break through.
In their first meaningful attack, in the fifth minute, Aziz Behich was caught too far up the field at left back. Julian Brandt saw the opportunity to get behind his man to pull the ball back to Lars Stindl who was completely unmarked close to the penalty spot. His first time shot beat Mat Ryan to his left for the Borussia Moenchengladbach striker’s first goal for his country.
Germany’s movement and precision passing consistently cut holes through the Socceroos defence for much of the half with the Socceroos giving the ball away far too easily in mid-field and unable to deal with the incisive passing around the penalty area.
Just 10 minutes after the opener a similar attack almost produced Germany’s second goal. This time Leon Goretzka got behind the defence but Sandro Wagner’s flying header flew just wide of the far post.
As Germany continued to produce openings, Premier League new boys Brighton and Hove Albion will have been pleased with what they saw in their new signing Ryan. He had to make excellent saves to deny Brandt twice. First he parried a fiercely struck shot around the post in the 21st minute and then, six minutes later, flung himself to his left to brilliantly keep out a strike from well outside the area.
After all of the early pressure Australia slowly began to get a foothold in the game and almost produced an equaliser in the 37th minute. After Massimo Luongo had been fouled on the left touchline, Aaron Mooy floated in a free-kick and Trent Sainsbury had managed to get behind the defence to be completely unmarked. The bounce didn’t fall quite as kindly as he would have liked and his header passed well wide of Bernd Leno’s upright.
However, the equaliser came shortly afterwards. In the 41st minute Tommy Rogic had a left foot strike from outside the area that was going well wide of the goal. It ricocheted off the back of Shkodran Mustafi straight back to Rogic who had another go with his left foot and this time the ball flew into the net although Leno should probably have been able to deal with it.
The scores weren’t level for long. Just two minutes later Luongo now was the one comitting the offence when he upended Goretzka in the box as the midfielder broke through the defensive line - the rash challenge unnecessary as Sainsbury looked to be covering. Germany’s captain Leon Draxler stepped up for the penalty and stroked the ball past Ryan as he went the wrong way. Germany took the 2-1 lead into the half-time break which was no more they deserved.
Postecoglou, admitted that his side had been outplayed during the first period by a better team: “The first half they were just too good for us.
"We struggled to get hold of the game and we allowed them too much space and, probably, a little bit too much respect. They were way too good. We were probably lucky to go in at 2-1.
“We just sat back a little too deep. We probably gave them a bit too much room and too much respect and in the end we’ve been pulled out of position.”
Robbie Kruse replaced Luongo after the break and he almost had an immediate impact managing to get through the German defence only to be ruled off-side.
Once again, Australia conceded a goal early in the half. Germany’s third came in the 48th minute and was beautifully worked. Once again it was produced down the inside right channel. Joshua Kimmich chipped a ball forward directly into the path of Goretzka who thumped the ball past Ryan at his near post.
Despite the setback, Australia worked their way into the game and started having more of the ball. In the 56th minute they managed to bring it back to 3-2 following a free-kick on the edge of the box after Rogic was brought down.
Mooy’s free-kick went into the wall with the ball falling again to Rogic. His shot seemed to come off the arm of Tomi Juric with Leno only able to push the ball back out to Australia’s number nine who hit the rebound home. The goal stood after it was reviewed by the video assistant referee.
James Troisi came on for a tiring Rogic with twenty minutes left and his excellent, curling shot soon afterwards was matched by an equally good save by Leno.
Germany’s usual captain and goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer didn't make the trip to Russia, being allowed a break along with most of their first team squad. His replacement, Leno was forced to make another good save when Kruse found enough space on the edge of the area to test the stand-in goalkeeper.
It was Germany that came closest to a final goal. Timo Werner had replaced Wagner and somehow got the better of two of Australia’s defenders, but his strike hit the base of the post.
Postecoglou was pleased with the better display after the break: “The second half was better I thought.
"We composed ourselves a little bit. We worked a little bit smarter defensively and we were good with the ball.
“In the second half we just said, ‘Let’s stick to our principles’ - defend a bit higher up the park, as we planned to do, and get our wide players right up onto their back four and it seemed to work better.
“There’s no question that it’s a team full of character and courage. We try and play a certain way against the very best and it’s not easy to do but they are, they’re putting themselves out there and testing themselves as we want them to.”
In the end, Postecoglou was impressed by the way Germany had performed and it reminded him just how far Australia still needs to improve.
He added: “You’ve got to give credit to the opposition. I thought they were really great in the first half. They were energetic they moved the ball quickly. They were pretty decisive in their actions and we just couldn’t hold on.”