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Lacklustre Germany beaten by Norway

sports Updated: Feb 12, 2009 09:30 IST

Reuters
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Visitors Norway beat a lacklustre Germany side 1-0 in a friendly match in Dusseldorf on Wednesday courtesy of a second-half Christian Grindheim goal.

Germany lacked spark and creativity despite the return of captain Michael Ballack and fellow midfielder Torsten Frings, who settled a dispute with coach Joachim Loew following the Euro 2008 final defeat against Spain.

The hosts came close early in the match with Miroslav Klose heading on to Mario Gomez but his volley floated over the crossbar.

Germany were lucky not have a penalty awarded against them when Heiko Westerman clumsily challenged Daniel Braaten in the box in the 21st.

The Norwegians, who relied heavily on quick counter attacks, were the livelier side, slowly finding more space in midfield and chasing down German attacks early on.

They grabbed the deserved winner in the 63rd when a crowded Germany defence, looking shaky throughout the match, failed to clear and Morten Gamst Pedersen crossed to Grindheim at the far post who tapped it in.

Loew made several susbtitutions, including bringing on talented Mesut Ozil for his first appearance.

Ozil was the subject of a tug-of-war in the past weeks between Germany and Turkey because of his family roots but he opted to play for Germany.

Germany, who are on track to reach the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa next year, face Liechtenstein in Group Four on March 28 and then travel to Wales for another qualifier on April 1.

They are four points clear at the top of the group with 10 points followed on six by Russia, who have a game in hand.