Imperious Germany end Belgian Euro dreams
Germany beat Belgium 3-1 here to complete their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a perfect ten wins from ten games and end the visitors hopes of reaching next year's finals.sports Updated: Oct 12, 2011 01:34 IST
Germany beat Belgium 3-1 here to complete their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a perfect ten wins from ten games and end the visitors hopes of reaching next year's finals.
Mesut Ozil, Andre Schuerrle and Mario Gomez all scored for Joachim Loew's side, who will be one of the favourites to win the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine after taking 30 points in group A.
In contrast, a talented young Belgian team -- for whom Marouane Fellaini netted a late consolation -- must now focus on reaching the next World Cup in Brazil after this defeat saw them finish in third place.
Guus Hiddink's Turkey will go into next month's playoffs after snatching second place with a 1-0 home win against Azerbaijan.
Belgium started well at the Esprit Arena but never troubled Manuel Neuer in the German goal in the early stages.
The first chance of note fell to Schuerrle, who sent a curling shot just wide of the far post midway through the first-half.
Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet then raced off his line to deny Gomez, before the hosts took the lead half an hour in thanks to a sensational strike.
The visiting defence failed to fully clear a corner, and Real Madrid's Ozil was on hand to thump home a shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box.
Belgium barely had time to regroup before they fell further behind three minutes later at the end of a devastating counter-attack.
A Belgian corner was cleared to Ozil on the edge of his own area, and he headed the ball into the path of Gomez, who drove at the visiting defence before slipping in Schuerrle.
The Bayer Leverkusen man then beat Mignolet with the coollest of chips.
To their credit, Belgium kept going and Jan Vertonghen had an effort deflected inches wide, while Gomez was again denied by Mignolet when clean through at the other end.
Gomez did make it 3-0 shortly after the restart, though, exchanging passes with Ozil before firing across Mignolet and into the net for his 14th goal in 14 appearances for club and country this season.
Belgium now needed Azerbaijan to do them a favour in Istanbul to make the playoffs, but news of a Turkey goal killed off any remaining hopes for the large travelling contingent.
They did have something to shout about when Fellaini headed in to make it 3-1 four minutes from time, but that could not dampen the German celebrations at the end of another fine evening for Loew's men.