Klose sent off and Podolski misses penalty as Löw's side hit low point

Germany 0 Serbia 1
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The Independent Football

Now we know this is an unusual World Cup: Germany have missed a penalty. The failure by Lukas Podolski. Germany's first spot-kick miss in competition since 1974 resulted in a defeat which put their prospects of reaching the second round in jeopardy.

No German team has failed to escape the first stage since 1938, and it seemed an unfeasible prospect after they demolished Australia 4-0 in their opening match. But if Serbia and Ghana also beat Australia (the latter fixture is this afternoon), Germany will have to win their final match against Ghana to qualify. They do, though, have what their coach Joachim Löw described as "a trump card, our goal difference".

They will feel it should not have come to this. Two days after his compatriots suffered their shock defeat to Switzerland Spanish referee Alberto Undiano also had a match to forget with a card-happy performance highlighted by the harsh dismissal of Miroslav Klose. Serbia took full advantage, Liverpool-bound Milan Jovanovic scoring while Germany's equilibrium was disturbed.

It was not an unduly physical match but Undiano, who showed 11 red cards in 17 La Liga matches last season, flourished nine yellow cards, two of which led to the departure of Germany's centre-forward. The first, a cynical trip on Branislav Ivanovic as the Chelsea defender looked to launch a counter-attack, was deserved. The second, a 37th-minute foul when Klose misjudged a mild tackle on Dejan Stankovic in midfield play, was an over-reaction. Had Undiano maintained such strict standards the match would have ended with nine apiece but, of course, he did not.

Löw was furious at the final whistle. He had calmed down by the media conference but said: "A couple of cards were justified but many were given for tackles that were not malicious at all. They could have been avoided. Klose just tried to kick the ball away and was unlucky to hit the opponent's leg. It was harsh, but my player could have avoided such a tackle.''

"I am disappointed because it means I miss the next match,'' said Klose. "It wasn't a foul. I am experienced enough to know when to pull out of a tackle and what to do. I am not worried though because I am sure we will beat Ghana.''

Germany dominated the second period but missed countless chances, including the penalty. Podolski, outstanding in the demolition of Australia, looked more like his goal-shy Bundesliga self as he put six shots wide, and the 59th-minute penalty into the arms of Vladimir Stojkovic. It was one of the few times the Serbian 'keeper, who had a torrid spell on loan at Wigan last season, held on to the ball but Germany could not punish his frailties. Nemanja Vidic was especially delighted with the save. The Manchester United defender – who was otherwise outstanding – conceded the spot-kick with an inexplicable handball.

"For a moment I thought there was someone behind me,'' said Vidic, "but there wasn't. It was one of those moments you can't explain. I was lucky he saved the penalty and we won the game. Vladimir owes me now because I put him in a position to be a hero.''

Germany looked the better side, as well as Podolski's misses Sami Khedira lashed a shot against the bar on half-time. But Serbia hit post and bar late on as Germany threw men forward, through Jovanovic and Nikola Zigic. Both chances were set up by Milos Krasnic who gave Holger Badstuber a tough afternoon and also provided the goal. His deep cross was met by the towering Zigic, who rose above both Per Mertesacker and Philipp Lahm, to head the ball down for the unmarked Jovanovic to score

"This is more than just a victory,'' said the Serbia coach Raddy Antic. "It has much greater impact psychologically than any other victory. This is a victory for our people. This team represents its people because it is energetic, ready to fight, arrogant. Serbian people recognise themselves in it.''

Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Badstuber (Gomez, 77); Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Muller (Marin, 70), Ozil (Cacau, 70), Podolski; Klose.

Serbia (4-1-4-1): Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Subotic, Vidic, Kolarov; Stankovic; Krasic, Kuzmanovic (Petrovic, 75), Ninkovic (Kacar, 70), Jovanovic (Lazovic, 79); Zigic.

Referee A Undiano (Spain).