Germany beats Austria 2-1 in Euro 2012 qualifier

Mario Gomez scored in the 89th minute to give Germany a 2-1

victory over Austria on Friday and a sixth win from as many matches

in 2012 European Championship qualifying.

The Bayern Munich striker, who had also given his side a 1-0

lead in the first half, notched his second goal of the Group A game

when he steered home a cross by captain Philipp Lahm. It was

Gomez’s 18th goal in his 45th appearance for the national side.

Gomez put Germany ahead just before the break, scoring from

close range after Austria’s defense failed to clear the ball after

a corner taken by Toni Kroos.

Austria equalized in the 50th when Germany defender Arne

Friedrich tried to clear a cross by David Alaba before it reached

Martin Harnik, but could only deflect the ball past his wrongfooted

goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

”Football is a crazy game, you must always keep going,” Gomez

said. ”I am going to try to play on like this, so the coach will

have a lot of options to choose from.”

Germany coach Joachim Loew called it ”a lucky victory” for his

team.

”We did not show our usual class. Otherwise, Austria would have

had more troubles,” Loew said. ”Austria fought hard for its last

chance. In the end, the three points are the only thing that

matters to us.”

Loew said last year’s World Cup in South Africa has begun to

take its toll on his tired players. Germany still has a qualifier

to play before the summer break – against Azerbaijan in Baku on

Tuesday.

”I have to compliment my team,” Loew said. ”Many players who

were at the World Cup are really near the limits of their strengths

now after a heavy season.”

The Euro 2008 finalist was without its main goalscorer Miroslav

Klose, who bruised his ribs in Sunday’s friendly against Uruguay,

and never looked comfortable in front of 47,500 fans at the

sold-out Ernst Happel Stadium.

Gomez missed two chances to give Germany an early lead after

Austria got the the first scoring opportunity of the match in the

fourth minute, when Harnik sent a header just wide from a Christian

Fuchs free kick.

Germany quickly responded when Gomez saw his lob from short

range saved by Christian Gratzei, and Austria’s goalkeeper

collected a header by the Bayern Munich striker just minutes

later.

Lukas Podolski came closest in a lively opening phase, hitting

the bar with a thundering 20-meter effort. It was the winger’s only

shot on goal in his 88th game for Germany.

Austria tried to ease the pressure on its defense by pressuring

Germany in midfield, a strategy that worked for the rest of the

first half as Germany failed to gain control the match.

Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira, playing his first game since tearing

a thigh muscle on April 20, failed to stamp his authority in

Germany’s midfield and was replaced by Holger Badstuber halfway

through the second half.

Austria coach Dietmar Constantini left striker Marc Janko out of

the starting lineup in favor over the faster Erwin Hoffer. His had

more possession after the break but was let down by its passing in

the final third. Hoffer and Harnik came close but saw shots go

wide, while the unmarked Stefan Kulovits hit the near post with a

volley from a difficult angle.

It was Germany’s 80th match and 56th victory in European

Championship history. The last time Germany lost an European

Championship away game was in 1998, when Turkey won 1-0 in

Bursa.

”We played okay but conceded goals at the worst possible

moments,” Constantini said. ”That’s bitter, but it’s no

coincidence. That’s the class of Germany.”

Austria still has a slim chance of finishing second in Group A

after Belgium and Turkey drew 1-1 on Friday. Second-place Belgium

has 11 points, Turkey has 10 and Austria seven.

Austria has never qualified for a European Championship but took

part in the 2008 event as a co-host with Switzerland.

Lineups:

Austria: Christian Gratzei, Ekrem Dag (Zlatko Junuzovic, 66),

Emanuel Pogatetz, Florian Klein, Christian Fuchs, Julian

Baumgartlinger, Paul Scharner, Stefan Kulovits, David Alaba, Martin

Harnik (Daniel Royer, 81), Erwin Hoffer (Marc Janko, 88).

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Mats

Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Sami Khedira (Holger Badstuber, 69),

Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos (Dennis Aogo, 90), Mario

Gomez, Lukas Podolski (Andre Schuerrle, 67).