Germany kept their perfect qualifying record intact as they beat Azerbaijan 4-1 in Baku. Andre Schürrle, Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez all found the net for the world champions.
Azerbaijan 1-4 Germany
(Nazarov 31' - Schürrle 19', 80', Müller 36', Gomez 45')
Germany extended their 100 percent World Cup qualifying record in Group C with a comfortable win over Azerbaijan in Baku. Even though Germany conceded their first goal of this qualifying campaign, they got the three points with Andre Schürrle delivering a fine performance.
For the fifth meeting between the two countries, head coach Joachim Löw made seven changes to the side which beat England 1-0 in Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno started in goal ahead of Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen while Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes replaced Antonio Rüdiger in an otherwise unchanged back four.
Sami Khedira came in for the injured Julian Weigl to captain the side, with Julian Draxler and Thomas Müller also coming into the midfield. Mario Gomez and Schürrle replaced the injured Timo Werner and the retired Lukas Podolski as Löw opted for experience in attack.
Germany's best early moments had come courtesy of Draxler on the right hand side but the opener came from the opposite flank. Draxler found Jonas Hector well advanced on the left and the Cologne man's first-time cross was finished off by Schürrle.
The goal silenced the crowd in the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium - named after the Azeri linesman who infamously allowed England's third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final - as Germany took control and the hosts sat deep.
Perhaps guilty of complacency, Thomas Müller's sloppy control saw the ball fall to Afran Ismayilov on the Azerbaijan right just after the half-hour mark. Ismayilov picked out Dmitri Nazarov with a well-placed pass and the striker, who plays his club football with Erzgebirge Aue in Germany's second division, made no mistake with his finish.
The hosts weren't level for long, though. Ismayilov was again the provider - only this time for the wrong team. Schürrle robbed him of possession and immediately found Müller who made up for his earlier error by rounding the goalkeeper and putting Germany back in the lead.
Ten minutes later, it was 3-1 as Gomez headed home Joshua Kimmich's cross from the right to all but secure victory before halftime. Löw's selection choices had been questioned by some ahead of kickoff, but the coach will certainly have felt justified with both of his strikers on the scoresheet.
The Azeris could have pulled a goal back early in the second half when the dangerous Nazarov beat Kimmich in the box, but Leno made the save. Mesut Özil, who started on the bench due to a minor back complaint, replaced Gomez after an hour to a rapturous reception from the home fans.
Comfortable second half
Germany were well in control as the Mexican waves began to cruise around the stadium, but the visitors struggled to break down a resolute and well-packed Azerbaijan defense. A clever corner routine involving a double dummy and a shot which lead to penalty appeals (not given) for handball against Mats Hummels showed there was some life in Azerbaijan, but it was too little, too late.
Germany applied the final garnish using a tried and tested recipe. Kroos found the tireless Hector on the left again and his low cross was finished emphatically by Schürrle. Germany sit seven points clear at the top of Group C and are next in action against San Marino in Nuremberg on June 10.
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