Mueller and Khedira score as Germany beats France

Thomas Mueller and Sami Khedira scored clinical second-half

goals as Germany withstood heavy spells of pressure to come from

behind and beat France 2-1 in a friendly on Wednesday.

France took the lead shortly before halftime when Mathieu

Valbuena punished some slack Germany defending to head in from

close range after Karim Benzema’s freekick had struck the crossbar.

Mueller scored shortly after the break with a shot into the top

corner and Germany then withstood a 20-minute barrage as France

pushed for a second goal.

Instead, it went to the Germans as France’s left flank was

exposed for the second time, allowing Khedira to run through and

slip the ball into the bottom corner.

France had won four of their past five encounters, with the

other one drawn.

”We were very good going forward, we often found space and

their goalkeeper made several good saves,” France coach Didier

Deschamps said. ”We need to be more efficient in attack. At the

highest level you need to cut out some of the mistakes we made. We

were punished for some of our mistakes tonight.”

Unified Germany’s last win in France was in March 1935and it

beat France again two years later. The French lost to both East

Germany and West Germany in 1987, but had not been defeated by a

German team since.

If Germany was supposed to be weaker without several injured

players, it hardly showed as coach Joachim Loew barely missed

veteran striker Miroslav Klose, Borussia Dortmund players Mario

Goetze and Marco Reus, or midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

”It was our first big test of 2013, we played with a lot of

rhythm and showed some of the good things that were missing last

year,” Loew said.

In an exciting opening Mesut Oezil went clean through and

goalkeeper Hugo Lloris rushed off his line to tackle him as he

tried to dribble past the Tottenham goalkeeper. Arsenal defender

Per Mertesacker then hit the crossbar with a glancing header.

”Oezil has been excellent for club and country in the last two

or three years,” Loew said. ”Everything he did was good, whether

it was his passing or his movement he was excellent tonight.”

Germany caused problems down both flanks as they started more

strongly, with France more threatening on the counterattack.

”Oezil was causing us problems because he was moving in between

our lines,” Deschamps said. ”I told my players to push up a bit

more and sometimes we did that a bit too much and they pierced

through us.”

Franck Ribery beat Mertersacker for sheer pace, before pulling

the ball back to Benzema, who tried to get it out of his feet

before Valbuena took it off him and hit a fierce shot just over in

the 20th minute.

Shortly after, Valbuena released Benzema with a looping pass and

the Real Madrid striker struggled to get the ball under control

with three defenders closing in on him. He finally got a shot away

but it was too close to keeper Rene Adler, who palmed it away.

Benzema nearly put France ahead with a delightfully curled free

kick that beat Adler and bounced off the crossbar. Germany reacted

slowly to the threat as midfielder Moussa Sissoko headed the ball

back across goal and Valbuena – by far the shortest player on the

field – sneaked between the taller Germans to nod home for his

second goal in as many games after netting away to Italy in

November.

”It’s a nice touch,” Valbuena said. ”When you’re small you

can still score with your head.”

Germany’s equalizer came shortly after halftime and was superbly

taken by Mueller.

France midfielder Etienne Capoue lost the ball in midfield,

Ilkay Guendogan collected it and played Mueller in behind the

defense. He advanced into the area and coolly clipped the ball over

Lloris’s shoulder.

With just over an hour played, left back Patrice Evra whipped in

a cross and Benzema – who gained in sharpness as the match went on

– just failed to get there ahead of Adler.

France then took complete control of the game and Valbuena went

close with a curling effort after swapping passes with Valbuena.

Ribery then poked the ball wide after making a run to the near post

to collect Benzema’s low pass from the left.

Benzema latched on to a loose ball in the area in the 73rd and

drove in a low shot that Mueller blocked as France camped in

Germany’s half. France’s wastefulness was the opposite of Germany’s

efficiency, and Germany again split France’s left side open – again

exposing Evra’s slack marking – and Khedira ran through to poke the

ball under Lloris’ body with the outside of his boot.

Ribery, one of the best players in the Bundesliga this season,

had an excellent game. With moments remaining, he charged into the

penalty area on a dynamic run and drew a smart save from Adler.

But it was not France’s night and Mats Hummels made a superb

block tackle to deny Benzema with the last kick of the game.

Benzema has not scored in his past 10 internationals.

”He needs a goal to be free again,” Deschamps said. ”Every

striker needs that goal to get going again.”

Germany conceded a lot of goals last year, losing 5-3 to

Switzerland and throwing away a 4-0 lead in a 4-4 draw at home

against Sweden, and Loew was annoyed with his defenders for giving

France too much space late on.

”We could have conceded at the end,” Loew said. ”Instead of

keeping the ball near the corner flag we gave it away and they

nearly scored.”