ASTANA (Reuters) – Germany eased past lowly Kazakhstan 3-0 on Friday without deploying any strikers for the first time in a competitive match under coach Joachim Loew as they stayed top of their World Cup qualifying Group C.
Two goals in two minutes midway through the first half from midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze, playing in a forward role, quickly put the Germans in control and dashed any faint hopes for the hosts.
Thomas Mueller grabbed Germany’s third goal in the 74th minute in a lacklustre second half after the second-bottom home side attempted a brief comeback and even hit the bar.
The result lifted leaders Germany to 13 points from five games, recovering from a 4-4 draw with Sweden in October when they had led 4-0.
Despite a midnight kickoff to accommodate German viewers with a prime-time start back home and an artificial pitch, Germany did not need long to adapt.
Loew, whose 4-2-3-1 system had led Germany to two straight semi-finals in the past two major tournaments, opted for no forward in his 91st game in charge even before Thursday’s injury to striker Mario Gomez.
The coach had only previously gone without a striker for a brief period in a friendly against France in February.
Goetze made an instant impact up front, charging past three defenders in a 20-metre solo run only to have his close-range effort smothered by keeper Andrei Sidelnikov.
The hosts only briefly showed some offensive flair and Bundesliga-based Heinrich Schmidtgal fired just wide after a well-executed break.
Their defence could do nothing, however, in the 20th minute when Schweinsteiger flicked the ball over two defenders and volleyed in for the lead.
Goetze doubled their lead two minutes later, firing into an empty goal after the keeper failed to hold on to a loose ball in the box.
With the Germans taking their foot off the gas, Kazakhstan carved out two consecutive chances with Ulan Konysbayev rattling the bar and keeper Manuel Neuer palming a Schmidtgal effort wide.
Mueller restored order in the 74th after good work from Goetze and Ozil to keep Germany on track for qualification to the World Cup in Brazil next year. The two sides meet again in four days in Germany.
(Writing by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Mark Meadows)
- Germany to burn midnight oil in Kazakhstan
- Keane adds to Irish injury woes for Germany qualifier
- Keane adds to Irish injury woes for Germany game
- Ireland strike late goals to snatch victory in Kazakhstan
- I don’t want to get rid of strikers, says Germany’s Loew