Created on 27-03-2013 at 00:00 AM
Germany maintained their drive for a place at next summer's World Cup in Brazil with a clear-cut 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan in Nuremberg on Tuesday evening. Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Ilkay Gündogan effectively settled a one-sided contest before the break, with Reus adding the fourth in the last minute. Heinrich Schmidtgal pulled one back for the Kazakhstan in the first minute after the restart.
“We had huge chances, but we lacked the couple of percent you need to score more often," commented Germany captain Philipp Lahm, “but at least we had it wrapped up by half-time."
Coach Joachim Löw picked all four of the Bayern players available to him on the night, with Manuel Neuer in goal, Lahm at right back, Jerome Boateng at centre half, and Thomas Müller on the right flank. Bastian Schweinsteiger (suspended) and Mario Gomez (sprain) had already left the squad and returned to Munich.
Woodwork in the way
As expected, Germany seized the initiative from the off against the deep-lying, defensive visitors. The East Europeans survived the first 20 minutes, but the home team's slick short passing ultimately paid off when Reus netted a 23rd-minute opener. Lahm's superb thrust into the box past four defenders left Götze with the simplest of finishes four minutes later, before Schweinsteiger’s stand-in Gündogan made it three just after the half-hour. It could easily have been more, only for the Germans to hit the bar or post three times before the break.
The second half opened with a curious incident as Neuer, a virtual spectator up to that point, lost control of the ball on the edge of his own box, allowing Greuther Fürth schemer Schmidtgal to pull a goal back. That knocked Löw's team out of their stride for a spell, but the men in white built the pressure again with 20 minutes remaining and created a string of decent chances, hitting the goal frame another three times in the second half.
Eight-point lead in Group C
Thanks to Germany's carelessness and poor luck, the game almost took a remarkable twist at the end, with Valeriy Korobkin hitting the outside of the post ten minutes from time, and Lahm clearing off the line from Schmidtgal on 89 minutes. However, Reus sent the crowd home happy with the 90th-minute fourth. Germany now lead Group C on 16 points from six matches, eight points ahead of Austria, Sweden and Ireland, although the chasing pack all have games in hand.