Created on 13-10-2010 at 00:00 AM
Four games into the programme in Euro 2012 qualifying Group A, few would now bet against Germany sealing a berth at the finals in Ukraine and Poland. The three-time World Cup winners ran up a 3-0 victory away to Kazakhstan on Tuesday night, and were helped further in their cause by all their main rivals dropping points in parallel fixtures.
In a remarkable clash in Brussels, Belgium and Austria shared the spoils in a thrilling 4-4 draw, Stuttgart striker Martin Harnik salvaging a point for the ten-man visitors in the third minute of stoppage time. Defender Franz Schiemer (14, 62) and Werder Bremen forward Marko Arnautovic (29) had earlier netted for the Austrians. Jelle Vossen (11) and Marouane Fellaini (47) had kept the Belgians in it, before Marvin Ogunjimi (87) and Nicolas Lombaerts (90) appeared to have snatched victory at the death, only for Harnik to level with the last kick. The visitors had lost Paul Scharner to a 68th-minute red card for retaliation. FCB centre-back Daniel van Buyten broke down in the warm-up and was unable to appear for the Red Devils.
Berti bests Hamit
Hamit Altintop and his Turkey team-mates sustained a heavy blow to their hopes of a direct qualifying berth with an unexpended defeat on Tuesday. Four days after a 3-0 reverse against Germany in Berlin, Guus Hiddink’s side fell 1-0 to Azerbaijan, coached by former Germany and Scotland boss Berti Vogts. Rashad Sadygov (38) struck the only goal of the evening in Baku.
Against the off-colour Turks, the home side might have won more emphatically, but Wagif Jawadov (9), Alexander Tschertoganov (54) and Ruslan Abischov (76) all squandered first-rate opportunities. The Altintop brothers had the Turks’ best chances, FCB midfielder Hamit hitting the bar from long range on 18 minutes, before sub Halil declined a close-range opening with six minutes to play.
Van Bommel in action
Like the Germans, World Cup runners-up the Netherlands made it maximum points from four matches with an impressive 4-1 win over Sweden. Bayern captain Mark van Bommel shrugged off a knee injury to start for the men in orange. Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar moved onto eight goals in qualifying so far with a brace (4, 55), with Ibrahim Afellay (37, 59) adding a double of his own.
Earlier in the day, the Dutch FA (KNVB) rejected the Bayern board’s call for the injured Van Bommel to be sent back to Munich immediately for diagnosis and treatment. The Netherlands skipper was substituted on 72 minutes.
Away from the qualifying competition, Ivica Olic missed out with injury, but Danijel Pranjic started for Croatia in a 2-1 friendly victory over Norway. Mohammed Abdellaoue, who plays for Bayern’s next league opponents Hannover, put the Scandinavians ahead on 21 minutes, but Mario Mandzukic (34) and Niko Kranjcar (49) turned the game in the home team’s favour.