Vidic rues missed chances after defeat

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The Independent Football

The Serbia captain, Nemanja Vidic, believes his team should still be in the World Cup despite a 2-1 defeat by Australia here on Wednesday which denied them a place in the last 16.

As events in the final Group D games transpired, a 2-2 draw would have been sufficient to send Serbia into the second round for the first time. But having replied to Tim Cahill and Brett Holman efforts with a late Marko Pantelic strike, Serbia missed a glorious chance to go through as the same player fired over in injury time.

Serbia had only themselves to blame after spurning a number of opportunities throughout, particularly in a first half they dominated, but their coach, Radomir Antic, and Vidic were both angry not to get a late penalty.

Vidic headed the ball at Cahill's arm in the closing minutes but the referee, Jorge Larrionda, deemed the contact accidental. The Manchester United defender said: "I am disappointed with some decisions. I think my reaction after that decision showed what I think and I need to choose my words carefully. We had a great first half but I was scared after those chances were missed – that is football, small details can determine the winner.

"This is the best performance for us in this World Cup but we take nothing from that. We expected to go into the second round and we are going home disappointed."

Serbia could have led by four goals at half-time, such was their superiority. Milos Krasic did put the ball in the net only to be denied by a marginal offside decision. Australia were far more determined after the break, entertaining thoughts of going through themselves but they could not overhaul Ghana's goal difference in Group D.

Vidic added: "We didn't underestimate Australia, we showed in the first half that we are strong and played some good football. But they are a good team, especially in the air. In the second half they had the courage to attack and put more pressure on us – the result was two goals."

Australia's victory restored some pride after a disappointing campaign. The Socceroos were savaged by their country's media after their opening 4-0 loss to Germany. They produced a better performance against Ghana but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Cahill was at his inspirational best on Wednesday on his return to the side following a red card against Germany.

The Everton midfielder said: "The most special thing is we just beat Serbia 2-1 and it's a fantastic result. We were unlucky not beat Ghana and we were very unlucky not to go through."