Germany beat the Faroe Islands 3-0 in their first match of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Friday. It was the first victory for the Germans since falling to Italy at the Euro 2012, and their 500th overall.
It could have been much different in Hanover Friday, but poor finishing and stellar play from Faroese goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen kept the score line respectable.
In the end, though, Germany's possession and skill proved too much for the northern minnows, with the hosts picking up a win that was never really in question.
Lots of chances, no goals
For much of the first half, Nielsen was unstoppable. Shot after shot seemed to fall right into the 25-year-old's hands, and not the back of the net.
It took until the 28th minute for the Germans to get on the score sheet. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Götze cut and weaved through almost the entire Faroese back line, ending his run with a calm, right-footed finish. Nielsen could only watch as the ball rolled into the back left corner of the net.
But the goal proved to be an aberration, and for the rest of the half Germany struggled to put their finishes on goal, and those that did, Nielsen stopped.
"It's still a problem, that we are missing out on a lot of chances," Germany coach Joachim Löw said after the game. "It's not just in this game that we've needed too many tries to get a goal."
Özil takes charge
Things changed for Germany in the second half, with Mesut Özil taking charge of the game. The Real Madrid midfielder scored a brace, with two goals in less than 20 minutes.
The Faroe Islands earned a rare corner kick less than ten minutes after play resumed, but Germany took advantage of an out-of-place defense. Thomas Müller fed a wide open Özil from the right wing, who finished calmly to make it 2-0 in the 54th minute.
His second came when Marco Reus played a ball directly through the Faroese defense. Özil picked up the pass and put the ball past Nielsen, putting the hosts 3-0 up in the 71st minute.
The pressure was off Germany after the third goal. They continued to dominate possession, and aside from an 81st-minute shot by Christian Holst from long range, German keeper Manuel Neuer remained untested.
The win gives the German national team 500 victories since play began in 1908. Their overall record stands at 500 wins, 191 defeats, and 174 draws.
Germany continues its qualifying campaign Tuesday in Vienna against Austria.