Created on 06-09-2013 at 22:30 PM
The German national side took what could well prove a decisive stride along the road to Brazil with a 3-0 win over Austria in Munich that leaves them close to direct qualification for next summer's World Cup. Miroslav Klose after 33 minutes, Toni Kroos after 51 and Thomas Müller two minutes from the end of regular time ensured that nothing would mar captain Philipp Lahm's 100th appearance for his country in the familiar surroundings of the Allianz Arena.
"Winning 3-0 against the group's second-paced team is hard to beat," Lahm said afterwards. "Today we were a lot more solid at the back, but more creative up front as well." With all five Bayern members of the squad - Manfred Neuer, Lahm, Jérôme Boateng, Kroos and Müller - in the starting eleven, Germany initially found themselves struggling to counter the pressing game of David Alaba and his Austrian team-mates, but Kroos tried a long-distance sighter in the 5th minute before Sami Khedira and Klose were both off-target in the 10th minute.
The longer the half wore on, the deeper the exchanges moved into the Austrian half, and the more frequent the chances became. Austria's last line of defence Robert Almer had to show all his ability in the 28th minute to keep out Marco Reus and Klose in quick succession, but he had no chance five minutes later. Klose somewhat luckily connected with a fierce cross from Müller and the ball went in at the near post to put the Roma striker level with Gerd Müller's record of 68 goals for the national team. The Austrians looked more dangerous again shortly before the break as Alaba in the 40th minute and Aleksandar Dragovic two minutes into stoppage time went close with long-distance efforts.
Kroos's tour de force
The visitors started the second half in similar mood, with Andreas Weimann in the 46th minute and Veli Kavlak two minutes later temporarily putting Germany under pressure - until the 51st minute, when Kroos abruptly ended the uncertainty by firing home a crisp shot from 22 metres out.
After that the home team started to cut through the Austrian defence at will. Müller, twice, and Kroos again could have made the lead more comfortable by the 55th minute, but after that the tempo noticeably dropped. For the most part the Germans had little trouble defending their two-goal cushion, although substitute Marcel Sabitzer spurned a promising opening in the 69th minute. It was left to home favourite Müller to set the seal on a convincing victory with a deserved third goal in the 88th minute.
"We rarely let up, and overall there was a lot to be pleased about," the goalscorer said afterwards. "Today we showed in particular good concentration right from the start." The team's reward was to extend their lead in Qualifying Group C to five points - and in this mood they can soon start checking out the flights to Brazil.
Germany line-up: Neuer - Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Schmelzer (Höwedes 46) - Khedira, Kroos - Müller, Özil, Reus (Draxler 90) – Klose (S. Bender 82)