Germany put on an impressive display Wednesday in their latest European Championships qualifier, beating Slovakia 4-1 in Bratislava. The crushing victory was marred by crowd trouble as German fans fought with police.
Poldi at the double: Lukas Podolski ended his recent goal drought with a brace in Bratislava
Five days after stunning Wales 5-1 in Cardiff, the Slovaks could do nothing against a German onslaught in the opening minutes that saw the visitors race into a two-goal lead after just 25 minutes.
Jogi Löw again had reason to celebrate
Coach Joachim Löw said that it helped the side settle down by scoring early goals. "I am very pleased with the way we played our game. Early goals are very important."
Three goals in 25 minutes shock Slovaks
Lukas Podolski opened the scoring in the 13th minute after being set up by midfielder Bernd Schneider, who was playing his 75th game for his country. Captain Michael Ballack added a second in the 25th minute with a diving header from a cross from Philipp Lahm.
The match was over as a contest in the 36th minute when Bastian Schweinsteiger made it three after goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky failed to hold onto a Ballack shot and the Bayern midfielder slammed the ball into the back of the net.
Germany began the second half somewhat slower and allowed defender Stanislav Varga pull one back with a header in the 58th minute after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann failed to come out strongly to claim the ball floated in from a free-kick.
Germany step off the gas to coast to victory
Germany striker Miroslav Klose found himself having to defend in the second-half
Löw said that he had understanding for his players that they did not begin the second half as energetic as they had the first. "After leading by three goals it is not easy to just continue pushing forward. But I was very happy to see that when Slovakia pulled one back the team upped the pace again."
Podolski scored his second in the 72nd minute after being set up by striker Miroslav Klose.
The result sees Germany move to nine points from three matches. They are second behind the Czech Republic who were held to a 1-1 draw in Dublin by Ireland. Slovakia are third with six points from four matches.
A small number of German fans was involved in clashes with police during the game and Ballack said that it was difficult to say something about such incidents.
"One can only say that the team totally distances itself from those people. When we are on the field we just want to play well, we do not really take too much notice of things that happen on the stands," he said.