Germany beats Azerbaijan in Euro 2012 qualifier

Mesut Oezil scored one goal and set up another Tuesday as

Germany beat Azerbaijan 3-1 to all but qualify for the 2012

European Championship.

Germany’s seventh win in as many matches means it tops Group A

with 21 points and can only be overtaken by Turkey, which is 11

points behind with a game in hand.

”You have to pay the team a huge compliment. I think we’ve

played an excellent season,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

”After all, it’s 24 days since the Bundesliga finished up. Of

course you can also see that the players are at their limit after a

long season.”

Oezil scored in the 30th minute, when he collected a cross from

Benedikt Hoewedes outside the area, took two touches past two Azeri

defenders and unleashed an angled shot that rebounded in off the

post.

The Real Madrid midfielder set up Mario Gomez for a tap-in 11

minutes later.

Azerbaijan’s Vugar Nadyrov had an effort ruled out for offside

in the 64th, before Murad Huseynov scored a late consolation in the

89th.

Andre Schuerrle restored Germany’s two-goal advantage in injury

time.

”It was important to win today and to end the season with the

seventh win,” Germany captain Philipp Lahm said. ”It was a

perfect season.”

It was the youngest ever Germany side to play in a competitive

game, with Lahm the oldest player at 27. A host of injuries forced

Loew to play his captain in an unaccustomed role in defensive

midfield.

”It’s very good news for German football that we have so many

young players. That can only make us successful,” said 21-year-old

Thomas Mueller after his 18th international.

The home side made the better start, with Aleksandr Chertoganov

going narrowly wide from 25 meters (yards) in the sixth minute,

before Manuel Neuer’s fingertip save pushed Nadyrov’s dipping

effort onto the crossbar.

Germany failed to create a chance until Toni Kroos grazed the

post with a free kick in the 18th.

Lukas Podolski tested Kamran Agayev with another, and Kroos then

forced the goalkeeper into another save as the visitors slowly came

into the game.

Oezil’s goal came somewhat against the run of play, with Germany

error-prone and anxious in attack.

Those nerves were settled when Holger Badstuber played a

wonderful through ball for Oezil to run onto, and the 22-year-old

looked up once and crossed for Gomez, who netted his 19th goal in

46 internationals.

Chertoganov and Dzavadov both went close before halftime, but

Germany remained in control after it, with Lahm and Kroos dictating

play in midfield. Neither Gomez nor Podolski could trouble Agayev,

however.

Azerbaijan – despite being two goals down – resorted to breaking

on the counterattack as Germany dominated possession. Nadyrov was

unlucky to have his goal ruled out due to a marginal offside call

after a rare break in the 64th.

Agayev denied Gomez in a one-on-one situation minutes later,

with Hoewedes heading narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

Both Oezil and Gomez missed chances to score, before substitute

Huseynov capitalized on some poor defending to blast past Neuer

from eight meters (yards) in the 89th, leading to flares being lit

in celebration by the home fans.

Another substitute, Schuerrle, dampened those celebrations when

he scored from the rebound after Agayev had made a good save from

Gomez in the third minute of injury time.

Azerbaijan coach Berti Vogts, who had a roll of toilet paper

thrown at him by journalists at a news conference ahead of the

game, told television station ARD he would fulfill his

contract.

”I feel good here,” the 64-year-old German said. ”There are

idiots all over the world. If three idiots attack someone, you

shouldn’t condemn the whole country straight away.”

Lineups:

Azerbaijan: Kamran Agayev, Rail Melikov, Elnur Allahverdiyev,

Vagif Javadov (Murad Huseynov, 71), Aleksandr Chertoganov (Rashad

A. Sadygov, 86), Vurgun Huseynov, Rashad F. Sadygov, Ruslan

Abushev, Vugar Nadyrov, Rahid Amirguliyev, Afran Ismayilov (Arif

Isaev, 57).

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Hoewedes, Holger Badstuber, Mats

Hummels, Dennis Aogo, Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller

(Lewis Holtby, 88), Mesut Oezil (Mario Goetze, 81), Lukas Podolski

(Andre Schuerrle, 76), Mario Gomez.