Norway stun Germany
© AFP

Germany were beaten by Norway for the first time since 1936 as midfielder Christian Grindheim scored to inflict a 1-0 friendly defeat.

The 25-year-old Grindheim's second-half goal was greeted with stunned silence by the home crowd, but did little to illuminate a dull game at Duesseldorf's LTU-Arena on a bitterly cold evening. Germany are ranked second in the world, with Norway 54 places below in 56th, and while Germany are top of their FIFA World Cup qualifying group, Norway are bottom. But none of those facts was obvious on the field.

At least the 45,000-strong crowd had the small comfort the roof was closed so the freezing cold outside did not add to their increasing restlessness as the boos and whistles grew louder as the game wore on. This was only Germany's second defeat to Norway in the 21 meetings between the two sides, with the last defeat coming when Adolf Hitler was in power.

Not since the 1936 Olympics in Berlin have Germany lost to Norway and Joachim Low had the luxury of naming virtually a full-strength side with captain Michael Ballack alongside the experienced Torsten Frings. The pair had been missing from Germany's last game when England earned a 2-1 win at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, but Die Mannschaft produced the similar lacklustre performance with little imagination in attack.

With Norway missing seven of their first choice players, coach Egil Olsen had been forced into playing Thorstein Helstad from French club Le Mans as his lone striker, but the guests' defensive game paid dividends. The best chance of the first-half fell to Norway when Schalke defender Heiko Westermann was lucky not to conceed a penalty when he took a heavy-handed approach with Toulouse striker Daniel Braaten in the penalty area.

The referee missed the foul and Germany were allowed to breathe easily after 20 minutes. Following the break Low made a host of changes and brought on some fresh blood in Leverkusen's Patrick Helmes, Stuttgart's Serdar Tasci and Hoffenheim's Andreas Beck - a forward, midfielder and defender respectively.

The substitutions only seemed further to disrupt the German's flow and just after the hour mark Norway grabbed the winner with - fittingly for such a poor match - a scrappy goal. Blackburn Rovers midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen got to the back of the penalty area and threaded his cross along the goal-line for Grindheim to stab the ball home on 63 minutes.

Germany briefly raised their game to force an equaliser, but Low will have been glad this was a mere friendly and not a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier.