Germany have beaten Kazakhstan in their second game against the side from the Steppes in less than a week. The Germans again won by a three goal margin, which at times looked as though it should have been far more.
After a comfortable 3-0 away win against Kazakhstan last week, Germany coach Joachim Löw probably didn't want to change too much as the sides met again in Nuremberg on Tuesday evening.
While there were some enforced changes since the last outing, Mario Götze carried on playing in the "false nine" role in the absence of Mario Gomez.
Germany had by far the best possession and attacking zeal, using their width well to create some gaps amid the Kazakhs but it was never quite enough in the early phases. For a moment, it even looked as though the visitors might get themselves on the score sheet first as Kazakhstan's Sergey Ostapenko headed a corner wide within the first ten minutes.
That said, by far the majority of thrills and spills came from Germany, with Ilkay Gündogan smashing the ball wide after nine minutes. The Dortmund player came close again 20 minutes in, whacking the ball into the post. Just moments later, Mario Götze - who early in the match had to go off with a nosebleed - also hit the woodwork. When the goals did come though, they came thick and fast.
The floodgates open
The breakthrough came on 23 minutes, with Germany camped out on the edge of the Kazakh area, Marco Reus skipped in from the left to drill the ball into goal. The ball had found him via Özil, but it was essentially a solo effort.
It wasn't long - four minutes - before the second fell; Lahm began the move with a dazzling run through the defense topped off with a deft, unselfish, cutback. Götze just got his foot to it to double Germany's lead.
And then the third, on 31 minutes - Mesut Özil found space on the right to dink the ball over to Gündogan, who sliced it high past Kazakhstan keeper Andrei Sidelnikov with the help of a small deflection.
Germany seemed to calm down a little as the first half drew to a close, no doubt to the relief of Kazakhstan's small contingent travelling fans who had something to celebrate after the break.
Within moments of the restart, Kazakhstan shocked the majority of spectators with a goal of their own. Philipp Lahm played the ball back for Per Mertesacker to touch back to Germany keepr Manuel Neuer.
The Bayern No.1 was unable to clear it somehow, allowing Baurzhan Jolchiyev, on as a substitute, to tackle and set up Heinrich Schmidtgal for an easy goal. Fans made their displeasure known, whistling their disapproval at Neuer through much of the rest of the match.
Myriad of missed opportunities
Kazakstan enjoyed a period of attack before Germany got on top again, Özil and Marcel Schmelzer both getting themselves in promising positions.
The most deceptively promising of Germany's attacks, though, came on 73 minutes as Sidelnikov earned his corn, making two superb saves. The first came from Götze, the second from a follow-up by Thomas Müller. Next, Özil struck the loose ball into the post before a Sami Khedira curler was tipped onto the post.
Lahm and Müller further tested the Kazakhstan keeper but somehow Germany looked as though they would contrive to score no more.
In the 89th minute though, thanks to a dream pass from Gündogan through the Kazakh defense, Reus was able to fire neatly past the keeper and re-establish Germany's three-goal margin.
Germany coach Joachim Löw said it had been difficult to break down a largely defensive Kazakhstan side through some periods of the match.
"In the second half we didn’t concentrate as much;" said Löw. "The first half was good and after the break we could have got another goal, or more. But the game was already decided."
"What I didn't like was that the crowd whistled at Manuel Neuer after his mistake. He is one of the best keepers in the world and just made a mistake."
The Germans top Group C on 16 points, with Austria, Sweden and Ireland all on 8 points.
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