Germany have handily defeated Kazakhstan 3-0 in the first World Cup qualifying match of 2013. Victory was always expected, and the three points keeps the Germans in first place in Group C.
It was a solid attacking performance from the Germans Friday night in Astana. The visitors put three past Kazakhstan despite playing without a true striker after Mario Gomez injured himself in training.
Gomez' absence meant that Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Götze was Germany's most attacking player, sitting in the so-called "false nine" position in front of Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Julian Draxler.
Schalke's young starlet Draxler was hoping to make the most of his starting 11 debut, but a knock to the head sent him to the bench early. Replacing him in the 18th minute was Lukas Podolski, who with his 108th cap moved into third, tied with Jürgen Klinsmann, on Germany's all time appearances list – only Miroslav Klose (123) and Lothar Matthäus (150) have more.
After some early pressure, Germany got on the board in the 20th minute. Mesut Özil played a pass across the box to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who flicked the ball up and over his defender before volleying a finish that bounced off Müller and into the net.
Not two minutes later, Götze doubled Germany's lead. Müller found himself in the middle of a scuffle for the ball at the edge of the six yard box and as the keeper charged to collect, the ball popped out to Götze who sent a high finish into the net to make it 2-0.
Kazakhstan press, Germany respond
After the break it was Kazakhstan who put Germany on the back foot. In the 69th minute, Ulan Konysbaev hit the crossbar with a powerful shot from distance. Two minutes later, Kazakhstan's Greuther Fürth winger Heinrich Schmidtgal nearly scored for the hosts with a near post effort from the left wing, but Manuel Neuer managed to push the shot wide.
In the 74th minute, Müller made it 3-0. Götze played a pass into Özil on the right side of the area, and the Real Madrid midfielder dinked the ball centrally to Müller, who made the simple finish.
The third goal halted what had been, up until that point, a good run of chances for Kazakhstan. After Müller's goal, Germany managed to retain the majority of control for the remainder of the match.
The 3-0 victory provides an important three points for Germany in Group C. It was the much-needed resounding victory the Germans were hoping for after less than inspiring performances against Austria and Sweden last year.
Germany next play Kazakhstan at home on Tuesday, where a similar result will be expected.