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Germany defeats Wales 2-0, but Mario Gomez is still goalless up front

Captain Michael Ballack scored a showstopper, but struggling striker Mario Gomez was again firing blanks against the Welsh in Cardiff. The German national side take another step closer to the 2010 World Cup, winning 2-0.

Germany's Michael Ballack, right, and James Collins of Wales challenge for the ball during the soccer World Cup qualifying group 4 match between Wales and Germany at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales Wednesday April 1,2009.

Captain Michael Ballack scored a beauty against Wales

The German national side remains four points clear of Russia at the top of World Cup Qualifying Group Four, after beating Wales 2-0 at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff on Wednesday night.

German Captain Michael Ballack opened the scoring after 11 minutes. Ballack powered the ball home with his right foot from 30 metres out after a throw-in which the Welsh thought was theirs.

Then an own goal by Ashley Williams, following some good work by forward Mario Gomez, made it two nil just after the half time break. Gomez, however, failed to get on to the scoresheet himself; the young striker now has not scored in his last fourteen matches for Germany.

Germany's Mario Gomez, centre, lunges for a header against Wales' goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey during their World Cup group 4 qualifying soccer match at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Wednesday April 1, 2009.

In the action, off the scoresheet: Gomez's drought continues

"It was an own goal, but that's not important," Gomez told reporters after the match. "We wanted to win the game and we did, and that's the important thing."

The fact that Wales were beaten 2-0 at home by Finland on Saturday meant John Toshack's side had to go all out for victory in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Striker Robert Earnshaw had the best of the Welsh chances up front. Joe Ledley also had a penalty appeal turned down after he stumbled over Serdar Tasci in the box.

Germany still on top in Group Four

The win leaves Germany four points clear of Russia with 16 points from six games. Russia, who have a game in hand, travelled to Liechtenstein and won 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Finland, who were not in action, are third in the group on seven points from four games, with Wales now struggling on six from six matches.

Germany's 4-0 victory over Liechtenstein in Leipzig on Saturday was workmanlike but did not bring the rush of goals the Germans had experienced in their three previous meetings, which garnered a total of 23.

And VfB Stuttgart striker Gomez earned jeers and whistles from home fans during Saturday's match.

Patience not jeers needed for struggling Gomez

The 23-year-old has notched up 14 goals in the Bundesliga but has gone more than a year -- over 700 playing minutes -- without scoring for the national side.

Mario Gomez lies dejectedly on the ground, after failing to get on the scoresheet in Germany's 4-0 trouncing of Liechtenstein on Saturday.

Gomez was "diappointed" by his fans after playing Liechtenstein

"Expectations of me are high, but I was nevertheless disappointed to be booed so quickly. I hadn't experienced this before and it took me by surprise," Gomez said.

Loew placed his faith in Gomez again on Wednesday, and while Gomez didn't deliver a goal, he had a solid game with a few near misses.

Praising the striker for his effort, Loew said the German fans needed to get behind Gomez, too. "Mario needs the public's support in a phase like this," he said.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said Gomez needs time and patience to overcome his 14-match international goal drought that has gripped the country.

"He has a great career in front of him. He is young. We have to give him time," Bierhoff told reporters as media speculated whether Wednesday's game against Wales would be the Stuttgart forward's last as a starting striker for some time.

"This is part of every striker's career. You cannot talk about a sporting crisis as he has continued to score for his club," Bierhoff said. "This is purely a mental issue. For strikers this is always the case."

Frustrated Welsh coach accepts limitations

Germany beat Wales 1-0 in October, in a match where the Welsh played very defensively. But after their 2-0 home defeat against Finland on Saturday, only a win would do for Wales. Still, they struggled to penetrate a well-organized German back line, and only rarely tested goalkeeper Robert Enke.

Welsh coach John Toshack faces the press before facing the German side.

Welsch coach Toshack knows his young side have much to learn

John Toshack has ushered in a new generation of young players for his new-look Wales squad. They haven't delivered the results yet, but the side is showing promise, and Toshack told the press before the Germany match that they just need more time.

"This current crop isn't ready," he said. "It hurts and it's frustrating but that's the truth of it. You look at the young lads, they come through and then some of them hit the brick wall."

With six points from six matches it's still mathematically possible for Wales to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, however it's extremely improbable.

It looks like Group Four will be decided on Saturday October 10. That's when Germany travel to Russia for the final showdown between the group's highest profile teams.

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