Austria Stuns Germany in World Cup Tune-Up; Neuer Returns to Action

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Manuel Neuer made his return after a lengthy injury layoff, but Germany conceded twice in the second half in suffering a surprise 2-1 defeat to Austria.

Austria provided a spirited second half performance to record a shock 2-1 win against Germany in a rain-sodden game in Klagenfurt. The World Cup holders appeared in control after Mesut Ozil’s first half goal, but strikes in the second half from Martin Hinteregger and Alessandro Schopf turned the game on its head.

Kickoff at the Worthersee Stadium was delayed for one hour 45 minutes as adverse weather waterlogged the pitch, meaning Manuel Neuer had to wait before making his first appearance since September to prove his fitness ahead of the World Cup. 

The delay to proceedings didn’t look to have an effect on Germany, who went in front after 11 minutes courtesy of a gift from goalkeeper Jorg Siebenhandl. His poor kick fell straight to the feet of Arsenal man Ozil, who punished the error with a lovely curling effort off the post for his 23rd international goal.

Neuer, meanwhile, was making his first appearance for Die Mannschaft since November 2016, and the Bayern Munich man almost gave the hosts a route back into the game minutes later with a loose clearance of his own, although Austria failed to capitalise and the resulting shot was routinely dealt with by the 32-year-old.

Despite Germany dominating by means of possession, good chances fell for either side in the remainder of the half. Siebenhandl redeemed himself following his earlier mistake to deny Julian Brandt with a smart stop, while Neuer produced a fine save at the other end to prevent Florian Grillitsch scoring via his near post, before a sloppy pass from Joshua Kimmich almost presented Austria with a chance in the final moments of the first period. 

In the second half, Austria looked the side that had won their last six internationals, with David Alaba going close, before the Bayern Munich left back had a hand in their stunning equalizer. 

His corner found Martin Hinteregger at the far post, with the defender rifling his volley past a motionless Neuer.

Franco Foda’s side weren’t done there as they almost took the lead minutes later. Alaba again the creator, playing a cute ball into Marko Arnautovic’s path, but couldn’t find a way past Neuer who spread himself well to block.

Germany looked to weather the storm laid on by their European neighbors, although they couldn’t prevent Austria from scoring a second with just under 20 minutes remaining. A well-worked move by the hosts was calmly finished by Schopf to give his side a deserved lead against the current World Cup holders.

Joachim Low had made changes throughout the half in what was his final game before naming his final 23 man squad for Russia, yet those replacements couldn’t help Germany find a late equalizer, with the defeat extending their winless run to five games, giving Austria their first win against the Germans in 11 games.

Germany now have one final game against Saudi Arabia on 8 June before they start their World Cup campaign, while Austria face Brazil on 10 June.

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