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Germany Spice Up Bland Play to Beat Austria 3-0

After a featureless first half, Germany landed a 3-0 friendly win against Euro 2008 co-host Austria. German striker Miroslav Klose scored his 37th international goal.

Austria's Rene Aufhauser fights for the ball with Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger

Underdog Austria showed a stronger start than Germany

The scoreless half-time result was a depressive showing for favorites Germany against Austria, who are ranked 90th and, having only qualified as the tournament's co-hosts, are considered among the weakest of all European Championships teams.

The scoreboard didn't change until the 53rd minute, when Thomas Hitzlsperger scored with a low drive from 20 meters (66 feet). World Cup 2006 Golden Boot winner Miroslav Klose followed it up 10 minutes later with his 37th international goal. He was assisted by captain Michael Ballack, back for his first international game after an 11-month hiatus due to an ankle injury.

Germany vs. Austria

The teams are grouped together in the Euro preliminaries

Substitute Mario Gomez, Germany's player of the year, sealed the victory 10 minutes before time with a header after joining the game in the 55th minute.

"The victory was positive, but we can't be content with the first half," Germany coach Joachim Löw said after the friendly match in front of 48,000 spectators in Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium. "There was too little commitment and our play was not dynamic."

National team captain Michael Ballack agreed.

"We had a pretty bumpy start, but we took advantage of our chances and they didn't," he told German television.

Near miss for Lehmann

Germany's lackluster, scoreless first half was punctuated Austria's squandered attempts on goal and an embarrassing mistake by 38-year-old goalie Jens Lehmann, who left the goal wide-open for striker Roland Link in the 22nd minute of play. But defender Per Mertsacker managed to hold on to the 0-0 deadlock -- and spare Lehmann the consequences of his blunder.

Jens Lehmann

Lehmann has played a record 531 games without giving up an own goal

The goal keeper, who is on the bench at Arsenal and whose first-string status on the national team has been a matter of discussion, stopped another attempt on goal with his foot in the 29th minute.

Austria, which are to co-host the European Championship with Switzerland later this year, have won only one match since October 2006.

Germany meet Switzerland in a friendly match on March 26. They will play Austria again in the Group B preliminary round of the European Championships in Vienna on June 16.

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