Belgrade goes silent as Australia defeats Serbia in World Cup play

09:33, June 24, 2010      

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Australia's Tim Cahill (R) vies with Serbia's Nemanja Vidic during the 2010 World Cup Group D match in Nelspruit, South Africa, June 23, 2010. Australia won the match 2-1. Both Serbia and Australia are disqualified for the round of 16. (Xinhua/Xu Suhui)

The festive atmosphere in the cafes along Belgrade's central pedestrian zone evaporated in a moment when Australia scored its first goal en route to its 2-1 victory over Serbia in World Cup action on Wednesday.

The buoyant chatter among the expectant crowd was quieted in a split second, as the seriously under-rated Aussies did something the Serbian players had been unable to do up to that point in the game - and that was put the ball in the net.

What had been an upbeat and optimistic crowd, already projecting beyond the current game and discussing who Serbia would meet for the upcoming knockout round, instantly fell silent when faced with the uncomfortable and unthinkable reality that their team just may not advance.

Serbia required only a single point to advance. After having defeated the heavily favored Germans in their previous outing, and given the fact that Germany had thoroughly trounced Australia by the score of 4-0, it seemed only logical that Serbia would emerge the winner on Thursday.

Certainly, the first half of the game met expectations, as the Serbians dominated the game, although unable to score. However, in the second half, a more aggressive Australian squad emerged.

If Tim Cahill's goal in the 69th minute numbed the Belgrade crowd, then Brett Holman's score only four minutes later shocked them into disbelief. At that point, disgruntled spectators were calling for waiters to pay their bar tabs and head home.

Marko Pantelic's goal in the 84th minute was like an electric charge that brought the crowd back to life. There was still hope in the dying minutes of the match. The crowd groaned with disapproval when regular time was extended by only three minutes.

When it appeared that a second Serbian goal had brought the team back from the edge, spontaneous celebrations broke out. However it was disqualified for an off-side offense. When Cahill's arm came into contact with the ball in front of the Aussie goal, the desperate pleas for a penalty shot went unanswered.

"We were robbed, that's what happened. Two clean goals were voided. Penalties were not called, and we dropped out. You can't play that way." declared Nikola.

"Actually this was a good game, but I really can't believe in this result. This was dreadful, dreadful. I don't have the words. I won't be able to make a comment for a month. This was a catastrophe," said Milos.

Nina, however, captured the mood of the evening: "We are disappointed because we were expecting more. I think because we were hoping and cheering for a victory we played as we did. We were expecting a victory."

Source:Xinhua

Special Report: World Cup 2010

(Editor:梁军)

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