Neuer returns but unable to prevent Germany loss to Austria

Reuters , Saturday 2 Jun 2018

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Austria vs Germany - Worthersee Stadion, Klagenfurt, Austria - June 2, 2018 Germany’s Manuel Neuer looks on REUTERS

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his comeback from a nine-month injury break on Saturday but was unable to prevent the world champions suffering a surprise 2-1 friendly defeat to Austria.

Neuer, who had not played a single official game since breaking a bone in his foot back in September, was handed the captaincy and looked fresh and confident but was powerless to stop Austria's two second-half goals.

It was Germany's fifth match without a win and their first defeat to Austria for 32 years.

Forward Nils Petersen was given his Germany debut at the age of 29 but was largely anonymous.

Austria gifted their bigger neighbours an eleventh minute lead when goalkeeper Joerg Siebenhandl sent a dreadful clearance straight to Mesut Ozil who scored from just inside the penalty area.

The hosts came back well and Neuer made a superb close-range save from Florian Grillitsch just after the half hour.

The 32-year-old was powerless, however, when David Alaba's corner found Martin Hinteregger at the far post and he volleyed home in the 53rd minute.

Neuer made another important stop, this time from Marko Arnautovic, but was beaten again from close range Alessandro Schoepf in the 69th minute.

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Friday that Neuer will be their first choice goalkeeper at the World Cup if he makes the final squad, which will be announced on Monday when four players will be cut from the current 27.

Neuer missed almost the entire season after breaking a bone in his foot and undergoing surgery and his comeback for Bayern Munich was repeatedly delayed.

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