Germany beats Belgium 3-1 in Euro qualifier
Mesut Oezil scored one goal and set up another as Germany beat
Belgium 3-1 in Group A on Tuesday to finish with a perfect record
in qualifying for the 2012 European Championship and eliminate the
visitors from a playoff spot.
Oezil put the home side ahead in the 30th minute after Real
Madrid teammate Sami Khedira laid the ball back for the 22-year-old
to unleash an 18-meter (yard) effort that went in off the
Andre Schuerrle scored Germany’s second from a counterattack
three minutes later, before Oezil set up Mario Gomez for the third
in the 48th.
Marouane Fellaini beat defender Per Mertesacker to an Axel
Witsel corner at the near post to head in an 86th-minute
consolation goal for the Belgians, who slipped to third in the
group with the loss.
”It was difficult to get into the game in the beginning but
then we showed what we can do,” said Oezil, whose outstanding
display will have pleased friends and family in the land of his
roots. ”Of course I’m happy for Turkey.”
Turkey finished second to reach a playoff for a spot at Euro
2012 after beating Azerbaijan 1-0.
”We didn’t want it to be said that we affected the competition
with a weak performance. We didn’t win for Turkey, but for
ourselves first and foremost,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
”It was important that we carried it through to the finish and as
a message to our competitors.”
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: ”The target to be the first
German team to get 10 wins (in qualifying) was a major
The visitors made the better start, however, forcing two corners
in the first five minutes after some uncharacteristic errors in the
Belgium captain Vincent Kompany drilled a shot to the left in
the 12th, two minutes before Schuerrle fired Germany’s first chance
Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet got the better of a one-on-one
with Gomez after Mueller set his Bayern Munich teammate through in
the 30th, but Oezil scored from the resultant corner.
Khedira’s initial shot from Toni Kroos’ corner was blocked
before he spotted Oezil lurking behind and played the ball back for
the playmaker to give Mignolet no chance.
Belgium sought an immediate response but Oezil turned defense to
attack with a clever pass to Gomez, who played the ball forward for
the advancing Schuerrle to coolly lift over the goalkeeper.
Eden Hazard’s corner had alarm bells ringing in the German
defense, before Jan Vertonghen’s deflected effort whizzed by the
left upright in the 42nd.
There was still time before the break for Mignolet to deny Gomez
another great chance, but the Bayern Munich striker made amends
when he sealed the win three minutes after the interval.
Oezil combined with Gomez, who controlled the ball with his
right boot before shooting past the outstretched Mignolet with his
Ilkay Guendogan made his debut for Germany’s senior side in the
84th, before Fellaini got ahead of Mertesacker to nick the ball
past Neuer at the near post.
”Germany is a machine that plays with great intelligence,”
Belgium coach Georges Leekens said. ”Big Germany is among the
European Championship title candidates along with Spain and
Holland. But little Belgium showed for 25 minutes that it can play
Germany: Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Hoewedes, Mats Hummels, Sami
Khedira, Mesut Oezil, Andre Schuerrle, Thomas Mueller (Marco Reus,
71), Philipp Lahm (Ilkay Guendogan, 84), Per Mertesacker, Toni
Kroos, Mario Gomez (Cacau, 77).
Belgium: Simon Mignolet, Laurent Ciman, Nicolas Lombaerts,
Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Timmy Simons, Eden Hazard,
Marouane Fellaini, Marvin Ogunjimi (Romelu Lukaku, 46), Axel
Witsel, Moussa Dembele (Dries Mertens, 64).
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway).