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International round-up

Schweini on target, comeback for Van Bommel

Bastian Schweinsteiger is becoming an opening-goal specialist in the 2008-9 campaign. After netting the first goal of the Bundesliga season last Friday, the Bayern midfielder scored from the spot on Wednesday evening to get Germany off the mark for the new term. Monchengladbach youngster Marko Marin added a second as the Germans ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over Belgium in Nuremberg.

“Obviously I enjoyed it. Fortunately my penalty went in. We played good football at times and deserved the win,“ Schweinsteiger said afterwards. Germany boss Joachim Löw was equally happy: “It’s early in the season, but the team tried to play decent football. We passed the ball well for as long as we still had the energy, and it was a great move for the second goal.“

Captain for the night Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm and Schweinsteiger started the match in front of a 34,117 crowd in Nuremberg. Bayern’s fifth representative, Marcell Jansen, began on the bench but came on for Lahm after 82 minutes. Klose and Podolski only played the first half, the latter partly due to an injury caused by a high studs-up challenge by Belgian keeper Stijn Stijnen, leaving the Bayern striker with severe grazing over his ribs. Munich centre-half Daniel van Buyten began the game for the Belgians.

Germans in charge

The Germans initially struggled to create clear-cut openings against the compact visiting defence. Piotr Trochowski (2), Podolski (4, 12), Klose (16), Schweinsteiger (22) and Thomas Hitzlsperger (33) all fired at goal, whereas new keeper Robert Enke, filling the void left by Jens Lehmann’s international retirement, was largely a spectator. A few long-range efforts aside, the Belgians’ only real chance of the match fell to Tom de Sutter on 19 minutes.

Lahm saw his drive parried by Stijnen seven minutes after the restart, before the home side finally got off the mark when Van Buyten was harshly adjudged to have impeded Mario Gomez in the penalty area. Schweinsteiger, who took over the captaincy from Klose after the break, stepped up to open the scoring on the hour. Sub Marin sweetly exchanged passes with Lahm 20 minutes later before rounding off the scoring and the win.

Comeback for Mark

Elsewhere, Mark van Bommel will have been not dissatisfied on the night after making a successful comeback for the Netherlands following almost two years of self-imposed exile from the national team. The Bayern captain played the full 90 minutes as the Dutch drew 1-1 with Russia in Moscow.

In Bert van Marwijk’s debut as Netherlands coach, Robin van Persie opened the scoring on 23 minutes and the Dutch appeared set for a creditable away win, but Konstantin Syrianow levelled from the spot twelve minutes from time as the men in orange failed to exact full revenge for a 3-1 defeat to the Russians in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.