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

crossbar.

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

motivation.”

The visitors made the better start, however, forcing two corners

in the first five minutes after some uncharacteristic errors in the

German defense.

Belgium captain Vincent Kompany drilled a shot to the left in

the 12th, two minutes before Schuerrle fired Germany’s first chance

well over.

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

left.

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

football too.”

Lineups:

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).