PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — Jermain Defoe’s goal put much-improved England into the World Cup’s round of 16.

Recalled to the starting lineup, Defoe knocked in a cross from James Milner in the 23rd minute to give England five points from its three Group C games. Slovenia finished with four points.

England will play Germany, the winner of Group D, on Sunday.

Following disappointing draws against the United States and Algeria to start the tournament, England played far more aggressively and created more chances against Slovenia. The English went ahead when Defoe put in Milner’s pass from 5 yards with a right-footed shot.

Now a squad that was among the pretournament favorites can take a breath, having moved on and avoided a humiliating early exit.

Germany 1, Ghana 0

JOHANNESBURG — Mesut Oezil scored on a left-footed blast from outside the area to give Germany the Group D title. Despite the defeat, Ghana also advanced to the round of 16 — taking second place in the group with four points. Australia also finished with four points, but Ghana was ahead on goal differential.

Ghana is the first of the six African teams in the tournament to make it to the knockout phase and it could be the last. Only Ivory Coast still has a chance to join Ghana.

Once the scoreboard had flashed the result of Australia’s match with Serbia — a 2-1 Aussie win — Ghana players hugged each other, waved their country’s flag and ran to the corner where their supporters were cheering and dancing.

Germany had been in danger of failing to advance from the group stage for the first time, but the three-time champions kept the upper hand throughout the match and got the victory they needed.

Australia 2, Serbia 1

NELSPRUIT, South Africa — Tim Cahill and Brett Holman scored second-half goals. But both teams did not advance to the second round.

Marko Pantelic pulled a goal back for Serbia, which finished last with three points, one behind Australia.

Cahill put the Australians ahead with a glancing header off Luke Wilkshire’s cross in the 69th minute and Holman added the second from long range 4 minutes later.

Australia, which made the second round four years ago and lost to eventual champion Italy, was undone by its 4-0 loss to the Germans

in the opener.

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