Antic: Referee cost Serbia second round spot

NELSPRUIT - Serbia coach Radomir Antic blamed the referee for Serbia's 2-1 World Cup Group D defeat by Australia on Wednesday which cost his team a berth in the second round of the tournament.

The Serbians had two efforts disallowed for offside and a penalty claim waved away by Uruguayan Jorge Larrionda and Antic said the officials had a "dark day."

"We had two goals disallowed and the first one was definitely not offside and we were also denied a penalty for the kind of handball that resulted in two penalties given against us in the two previous matches," Antic told a news conference.

"This is not a dark day for Serbian soccer, it was the referee and his assistants who had a dark day and their poor decisions put us to the sword, albeit along with chances we missed in the first half.

"We showed that we deserved to be in the World Cup and football has not treated us fairly here because this game showed that the better team doesn't always win.

"But we have to be completely honest and say that Australia's first goal stunned us and we didn't recover until very late in the game, when we could have rescued our bid to reach the last 16.

Central defender Nemanja Vidic, who had a below-par tournament, said the Serbians fell apart in the second half and were left to rue their misses from the opening period.

"It is a very sombre atmosphere in the dressing room because we played a very good first half, the best since beating Romania 5-0 in the qualifiers," Vidic told reporters.

"Australia were more aggressive in the second and we ran out of steam after they started pounding us with long balls and sharp crosses into our penalty box.

"We are very disappointed because we expected to reach the knockout stage of the competition, especially after beating Germany and giving ourselves a good chance of progressing."

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