Those who witnessed the breathtaking opening ceremony in the Waldstadion were hoping that the football that followed would provide similar entertainment. They were not to be disappointed. A warm summer's evening in Frankfurt provided a fascinating contest beween FIFA Confederations Cup hosts Germany, spurred on by a capacity crowd, and Australia, the underdogs with nothing to lose.

Jurgen Klinsmann's side could have taken the lead in the opening 40 seconds. Almost straight from the kick-off Kevin Kuranyi played the ball to Lukas Podolski who flashed a left footed shot just wide of Mark Schwarzer's left-hand post.

The passionate German crowd were off their seats once again three minutes later when Thomas Hitzlsperger fired over from 25 yards. The Stuttgart midfielder's free-kick was headed back to him by Socceroos skipper Craig Moore and the 23-year-old blasted the return comfortably over the bar.

A neat passing move from Australia almost paid dividends when John Aloisi, Tim Cahill and Scott Chipperfield combined well down the left to put Germany under pressure. Josip Skoko joined in the attack and slipped a fine through-ball hoping to pick out Chipperfield, but Oliver Kahn was off his line to save smartly.

As the sun set in Frankfurt, the frustrations of the home fans appeared to grow as an opening goal was not forthcoming. However, they did not have to worry too long as Kuranyi scored a fine goal to put Germany ahead in the 17th minute. The Stuttgart striker showed great skill to slip his marker and divert the ball past Schwarzer from Arne Friedrich's cross.

Joy turned to despair for the supporters of the Nationalmannschaft four minutes later when Australia drew level. Robert Huth fouled Aloisi on the edge of the box and from the resulting free-kick, Skoko drilled the ball through the German wall and past the unsighted Kahn.

Per Mertesacker capped an amazing six-minute spell when he volleyed home to put Germany 2-1 ahead. The young defender finished in style from close range following Australia's inability to clear a corner kick. But the drama was not over yet.

Just as the crowd began to draw breath following the flurry of goals, Australia once again displayed their unquestionable spirit. This time the goalscorer Skoko turned architect as his precise pass picked out Aloisi's run and the striker was left with the easiest of chances to turn the ball past Kahn on 31 minutes.

The home supporters were left to rue their team's inability to hold on to a lead - raising the same questions that were asked of Germany's defence following their recent 2-2 friendly draw with Russia. It was Australia's defence, rather than Germany's, who were tested as the second half began, however. Klinsmann's side were looking to restore their lead at once but they found Schwarzer in excellent form on three separate occasions.

Three minutes into the second half the Middlesbrough keeper made a stunning stop to palm away Bastian Schweinsteiger's powerful right-footed drive. Then he saved low to deny the influential Michael Ballack from close range. And on 53 minutes, it was Schneider who was frustrated by the Aussie No1 when his curling shot was superbly tipped round the post.

Germany finally took the lead for the third time in the match on the hour when Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla felt that Ljubo Milicevic's challenge on Friedrich was unfair and awarded a penalty kick. Ballack stepped up to the spot and sent Schwarzer the wrong way.

Substitute Sebastian Deisler almost created Germany's fourth of the evening in the 84th minute. After a powerful run through the centre of the midfield, he found Podolski in space, but the young striker's finish was wayward. However, the Cologne man got the goal his efforts deserved when he converted Ballack's low cross to double the hosts' advantage with two minutes remaining.

Aloisi grabbed his second and Australia's third of the evening in injury time with a cool close-range finish past Kahn, but it was Germany who got their FIFA Confederations Cup campaign off to a winning start.