UEFA World Cup qualifying: Germany 4 Kazakhstan 1
By Football News
Germany moved a step closer to the 2014 World Cup with a 4-1 defeat of Kazakhstan in their qualifier at the Grundig Stadium on Tuesday.
The scoreline barely reflected the dominance of Joachim Loew's men, who piled on chance after chance, but were denied further goals by the woodwork and some excellent goalkeeping from Andrei Sidelnikov.
A blistering 10-minute spell in the first half saw Marco Reus, Mario Goetze and Ilkay Guendogan all get their names on the scoresheet, but a terrible mistake from Manuel Neuer shortly after the break allowed Heinrich Schmidtgal to give Kazakhstan some consolation.
After a one-sided second half, Reus rounded off the scoring at the death with his second goal to give Germany a seemingly unassailable eight-point lead over Austria at the top of the Group C standings.
Loew persisted with Goetze in the false-nine role he filled so effectively in the reverse fixture, with Reus, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Oezil making up the rest of the home side's attack.
The first chance of the game would surprisingly fall to the visitors eight minutes in as Sergei Ostapenko glanced a header wide from a good position inside the area.
But Germany responded almost instantly, when Oezil teed up Guendogan for a shot that was placed the wrong side of the post.
The superiority of Germany was clear for all to see, and after a few half-chances went begging, Guendogan thought he had given his side the lead, but his well-struck drive from the edge of the area cracked off the inside of the post.
The opener would eventually arrive after 23 minutes when Oezil fed Reus, who took his time to manufacture space at the top of the box before belting an effort neatly into the bottom corner.
Goetze would double Germany's advantage with a tap-in four minutes later, but his goal owed much to the work of Philipp Lahm, whose barnstorming run down the right put the opportunity on a silver platter.
Kazakhstan barely had time to dust themselves off before Germany hit them again.
Oezil was the provider once more, pivoting on the right to deliver towards Guendogan inside the area, and he did just enough to force the ball over the line ahead of his marker.
The 22-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder certainly was not scared to have a shot, and with half-time looming he nearly added his second goal with a series of fakes at the top of the box that ended with a shot that whistled narrowly over.
But barely two minutes into the second half, the visitors were gifted an unlikely goal when Manuel Neuer dribbled Per Mertesacker's pass straight into a crowd of Kazakhstan players, lost the ball, and allowed Schmidtgal time to stroke into an empty net.
Marcel Schmelzer went very close just after the hour mark with a drive that glanced off the outside of the post, but Germany, despite keeping Kazakhstan squarely under their thumb, were perhaps lacking the cutting edge of their first-half exploits.
And it seemed like the fourth goal would elude them after an incredible sequence on 72 minutes, where Sidelnikov denied Goetze and Mueller from in close, with Reus hitting the post with the rebound, and Sami Khedira’s follow-up was also touched onto the woodwork by the Kazakh keeper.
Valeriy Korobkin nearly made things interesting with a low shot that deflected out off the post, but Sidelnikov was kept busy to the very end, denying Oezil and Mueller from close range.
But finally, in stoppage time, Germany would get their fourth as Guendogan played in Reus, who made no mistake and rounded off an enjoyable night in Nuremberg for the home side.