Football: Asian champs Australia denied famous German win by late Podolski strike

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AFP) - Australia's James Troisi says the Socceroos' 2-2 draw with Germany just shows how far the Asian champions have come in 12 months.

Only a Lukas Podolski equaliser nine minutes from time in Kaiserslautern spared the world champions' blushes on Wednesday night in Germany.

Australia had taken a 2-1 lead thanks to Troisi's first-half header and a free-kick from captain Mile Jedinak which cancelled out Marco Reus' early goal for Germany. Having shocked Germany 2-1 in Moenchengladbach four years ago, an inexperienced Australian side came close to producing another upset as the hosts' post-World Cup hangover continues.

With attacking talisman Tim Cahill out injured, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou blooded a three-man attack of Mathew Leckie, Nathan Burns and Troisi which caused the Germans no end of problems. Australia were impressive in their first international since winning January's Asian Cup in Sydney and Troisi says the fact they were disappointed not to beat the world champions shows the Socceroos are on the rise.

"Few would have thought 12 months ago that we would nearly beat the world champions - I surely wouldn't have - but it shows how far we have come as a team," said the 26-year-old.

"I think Germany didn't expect us to play like we played and to put them under so much pressure. "They weren't comfortable at all," he said. "We are pleased with our performance, but we missed some chances - we could have had three or four more.

"A draw is OK, but it's great to see how well we play against the best. We really wanted to put on a good show for people back home who woke up early to watch us play."

Germany had taken the lead when Reus slid home Sami Khedira's cross on 17 minutes just minutes after the Borussia Dortmund winger had a goal ruled offside.

The Socceroos drew level five minutes before the break when right winger Nathan Burns' cross was headed home by Troisi past Germany goalkeeper Rob-Robert Zieler.

Australia took a deserved 2-1 lead when captain Jedinak crashed in a free-kick on 50 minutes to silence the home crowd. It was no more than the visitors deserved having constantly tested the German defence with Mathew Leckie, who plies his trade for German second-division side Ingolstadt, a constant menace.

Having enjoyed their first World Cup victory in Kaiserslautern when they beat Japan 3-1 at the 2006 World Cup, the Socceroos were just nine minutes from another historic win until Podolski denied them. Andre Schuerrle fed the ball through to Podolski who buried his shot past Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

The Socceroos now face Macedonia on Monday in their last European friendly and captain Jedinak hopes their stunning display against the world champions will have won them a few more fans back home.

"I think this can take our belief to the next level. I think everybody, if they didn't believe, now they will," said the 30-year-old Crystal Palace midfielder.

"We can take a lot from this game. As long as we keep moving in the right direction, it's looking pretty good. We had a game plan, we said we have to build on what we have so far with the Asian Cup victory. We knew it would be a great measuring stick - they are the world champs. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. But we were brave and we were probably a little unlucky not to win."

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