- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AP) - Germany substitute Lukas Podolski scored late to rescue a 2-2 draw for the World Cup holders against Australia in a friendly on Wednesday.

Podolski was left free at the far post to sweep in a cross from fellow substitute Andre Schuerrle in the 81st minute, eight minutes after coming on.

Germany had looked like it was headed for a second successive 2-1 home defeat to Australia, after goals from James Troisi and Mile Jedinak either side of halftime cancelled out Marco Reus’ 17th-minute opener.

Troisi and Mathew Leckie missed good chances to make it 3-1 to Australia, as Germany again looked vulnerable in defense after failing to impress in recent games.

Joachim Loew’s side has won only three of seven games since winning the World Cup last July, and qualification for the 2016 European Championship in France is not the formality many expected after a defeat to Poland and draw with Ireland in Group D.

Loew started with both Ilkay Gundogan and Holger Badstuber back after injury-enforced absences and Sami Khedira captaining the side with Bastian Schweinsteiger staying on the bench. Ron-Robert Zieler started in goal for the rested Manuel Neuer.

The visitors started well, forcing a corner in the first minute and going close through Leckie in the ninth.

Reus scored a minute after having a goal ruled out for offside, when Khedira won the ball in midfield, strode forward and crossed for the Borussia Dortmund player to slide in and guide the ball inside the near post.

Reus should have claimed his second five minutes later when Jedinak, Australia’s captain, gave the ball away, but he hesitated and struck the side-netting.

Troisi equalized with a powerful header from Nathan Burns’ cross in the 40th, after some lethargic German defending for a throw-in.

“A typical friendly game goal,” former Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said. “Nobody was really determined to make a challenge.”

Jedinak then scored with a free kick into the right corner in the 50th. Zieler got his hand to the ball but couldn’t stop it.

Troisi caused havoc in the German defense again shortly afterward, only to curl his shot wide of the far post, and Leckie went even closer on a counterattack in the 71st.

Podolski came on two minutes later to save Germany’s blushes.

“The game was a bit hectic altogether. There were some good chances for us in the first half. We didn’t have that structure in the second. There were some good things, and some things weren’t so good,” said Loew, who recently extended his contract to 2018.

Both sides wore black armbands in memory of the 150 victims of Tuesday’s plane crash over the French Alps.

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