Germany end FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with thrashing win over Azerbaijan
Leon Goretzka netted twice as Germany routed Azerbaijan 5-1 on Sunday to make history with a perfect FIFA World Cup qualifying record of 10 wins in as many games.Updated: Oct 09, 2017 08:15 IST
Germany wrapped up their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 100 per cent record as they swept aside Azerbaijan 5-1 in Kaiserslautern.
Joachim Low’s side has been in imperious form in Group C, scoring 43 goals and conceding just four.
Leon Goretzka opened the scoring early on with an impudent backheel before Azerbaijan scored an unlikely equaliser through Ramil Seydaev to go into the break level.
Die Mannschaft turned on the style in the second half, though, as goals from Sandro Wagner, Goretzka, Emre Can, and an own goal from Badavi Huseynov ensured they ended their qualifying campaign with a flourish.
The only negative for the hosts was the first-half withdrawals of Niklas Sule and Shkodran Mustafi through injury.
Low made seven changes from the side that beat Northern Ireland 3-1 on Thursday, but his new-look team gelled immediately and were ahead inside eight minutes.
Joshua Kimmich’s deep corner fell at the feet of Goretzka, who - despite having his back to goal - executed an audacious backheel into the top corner of Kamran Aghayev’s net.
The visitors responded well to the early setback, though, and should have been level shortly after. Seydaev played in Richard Almedia, but the Qarabag forward took too long on the ball and was muscled out before he could get a shot away.
Wagner then somehow contrived not to score just after the half-hour mark. Thomas Muller’s low cross was met by the unmarked Hoffenheim striker six yards out, but his effort was deflected onto the post by Aghayev. The rebound then crashed against the hapless Wagner’s knee and screwed agonisingly wide from point-blank range.
Wagner’s misfortune was Azerbaijan’s gain, however, as the visitors pulled level in the 34th minute.
Mustafi pulled up injured going for the ball, allowing Seydaev a free run into the area, where he duly turned substitute Antonio Rudiger before drilling a low shot past Bernd Leno from a tight angle.
Germany looked to bounce back immediately and Wagner was again denied by Aghayev, this time from a powerful header at the back post, while Leroy Sane inexplicably drilled wide from close range on the stroke of half-time.
Germany’s fluid attacking play was on show again immediately after the restart as some clever exchanges on the edge of the area played in Julian Brandt. The Bayer Leverkusen winger’s initial effort was blocked by Aghayev and his follow-up dribbled just past the upright with the Azerbaijan goalkeeper stranded.
The hosts’ bright start to the second period was rewarded nine minutes in as Wagner netted his fifth goal in as many appearances for his country.
The 29-year-old met Brandt’s deep cross with a thumping header, which crept over the line despite the best efforts of Ruslan Abisov to clear.
Lars Stindl then hit the post with a dipping half-volley before two goals in three minutes killed any faint hopes Azerbaijan might have had of a comeback.
First, Rudiger’s header from Kimmich’s corner was put into his own net by the unfortunate Huseynov and then Goretzka scored his second, turning in Leroy Sane’s low cross from close range.
Germany then hit a fifth as Liverpool midfielder Can scored his first international goal with a thumping long-range drive.
There was still time for Azerbaijan’s Magomed Mirzabekov to crash a shot against the post in the closing stages, but it was fitting that the final goal of the game was Can’s memorable strike.
Poland head to World Cup
Robert Lewandowski scored a European qualifying record 16th goal as Poland defeated Montenegro 4-2 on Sunday to reach next year’s World Cup, while reigning champions Germany secured a 10th successive win.
Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski struck again in what has been a remarkable qualifying campaign as Poland recovered from throwing away a two-goal lead in Warsaw to secure a first trip to the World Cup finals since 2006.
First Published: Oct 09, 2017 08:12 IST