Section favourites and three-times world champions Germany lived up to their pre-tournament billing by clinching the top position in Group D, but Ghana bucked a so far disappointing trend for Africa's contenders by joining them in the Round of 16. While that outcome might not seem particularly surprising, things could have turned out quite differently during a dramatic final round of matches in which Australia and Serbia both came agonisingly close to reaching the knock-out stages.
How it finished
1. Germany, 6 points
2. Ghana, 4 points, goal difference: 0
3. Australia, 4 points, goal difference: -3
4. Serbia, 3 points
Germany: The 4-0 rout of Australia in their opening match not only impressed fans and commentators at home but focused global attention on a team not widely reckoned to be among the tournament favourites. However, the youngest Germany squad at a FIFA World Cup in 76 years were quickly brought down to earth by Serbia's 1-0 win in their second outing. In danger of elimination in the first round for the first time since 1938, Joachim Low's team got back on track with a narrow 1-0 victory over Ghana in their final match.
Ghana: The Black Stars are the only team from Africa to have so far reached the Round of 16, and their qualification was a close-run thing. Two penalties from Asamoah Gyan secured Ghana a 1-0 success against Serbia and a 1-1 draw with Australia, earning four points that temporarily put the west Africans on top of Group D. In their final match, they fell to a solitary goal against Germany, but thanks to a better goal difference than Australia, Ghana just managed to clinch a place in the next round.
Australia: The Socceroos came into the tournament as outsiders and their worst fears were confirmed in a comprehensive 4-0 defeat by Germany in their opening match when they lost Tim Cahill to a red card. But a gritty performance in their next outing against Ghana secured a 1-1 draw despite the team being again reduced to ten men, this time for more than an hour. A 2-1 victory over Serbia in Australia's final match not only extinguished their opponents' hopes of progress but, for a short while, held out the tantalising hope of qualifying on goal difference.
Serbia: It all looked so promising for Radomir Antic's men going into their final matches. Having come back from a 1-0 defeat by Ghana to beat highly-fancied Germany by the same score, another victory against Australia would have guaranteed the Serbs passage into the next round. But after dominating play for much of the game, Serbia were punished for their profligacy by two Australia goals, and a late comeback could not prevent the Socceroos clinching a 2-1 victory that sent both teams home.
Moments to savour
Two brothers, two countries
Brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng had already hit the headlines before the competition began, when they were selected for different national teams. In the final group game between Germany and Ghana the Boatengs even lined up against each other in their respective teams' starting line-ups.
Africa unites behind Ghana
When Asamoah Gyan gave his side an 85th-minute lead against Serbia, and again when the final whistle blew minutes later, the celebrations did not stop at Ghana's borders. Supporters of all the African teams joined the Blacks Stars' fans in applauding the first victory for a team from the host continent. Ghana should be able to count on continued backing from all over Africa in the Round of 16 since Milovan Rajevac's side look likely to be the continent's only representative in the knock-out stages.
Klose closes in on Gerd Muller
Miroslav Klose's goal to put his side 2-0 up against Australia brought his overall FIFA World Cup tally to 11, making him Germany's joint-second highest scorer in the competition alongside Jurgen Klinsmann. However, he is still three shy of 'Der Bomber', Gerd Muller, whose record of 14 finals goals was overhauled in 2006 when Brazil's Ronaldo went one better.
Three FIFA World Cups for three teams
Serbia's Dejan Stankovic completed a unique historical feat when he turned out for his country in South Africa as the first player to appear in three FIFA World Cups for three different teams. At the 1998 tournament he represented Yugoslavia, while in 2006 he was part of the Serbia and Montenegro team that crashed out at the group stage.
12 – the number of FIFA World Cups won by nations that Ghana have played in the competition. In 2006 the Black Stars played against Italy and Brazil.
"Now we're playing for all Africa. Ghana is the standard-bearer for the whole continent. The African fans will be behind us as we do everything we can to reach the quarter-finals," Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ghana midfielder