Mario Goetze hits twice as Germany fend off Poland in Euro Qualifying
Mario Gotze scored twice and hit the post as Germany toppled Poland at the summit of Euro 2016 qualifying Group D with a 3-1 win in Frankfurt on Friday.
The world champion dictated play in the early stages, with Thomas Muller and Gotze firing them into a 2-0 lead by the 19th minute.
But Poland recovered well and Robert Lewandowski reduced the deficit eight minutes from halftime with a powerful header.
Lewandowski had chances to pull Poland level, but it was Germany that looked most likely to score after the interval – Gotze hitting the frame of the goal and Mats Hummels drawing a superb diving save from goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Gotze eventually made sure of the win with a straightforward late goal, sealing three points that give Germany control of the group heading into its last three qualifying fixtures and inflicted a first defeat on Poland.
Joachim Low handed a Germany debut to Liverpool’s Emre Can at right back, while Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Muller all returned after sitting out the country’s last qualifier with Gibraltar, but it was Karim Bellarabi who caused Poland most problems in the early stages.
The Bayer Leverkusen winger looked lively and saw a seventh-minute effort from just inside the box deflected wide.
Bellarabi then played a key role when Germany did eventually break the deadlock five minutes later, playing a well-weighted through ball into the path of Jonas Hector, who squared for Muller to tap in from close range.
Germany was in complete control and capitalised on some hesitant Poland defending to double their advantage in the 19th minute.
Gotze was afforded the space to create a shooting angle at the edge of the box and found the bottom left-hand corner with a low drive.
Lewandowski is the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying and, although Poland initially struggled to get the ball to their star man, he made it count when they did.
Can was caught out of position, giving Kamil Grosicki time to cross in from the left, with Lewandowski powering home a header for his eighth in seven matches.
The Bayern Munich striker could have pulled Poland level before the break, seeing one effort pushed over the crossbar by Neuer before his header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by Gotze.
Poland was content to sit back and waiting for a chance to counter-attack early in the second period, but it was almost caught out when Gotze curled onto the right-hand upright after being sent clean through on goal.
Neuer produced a diving save to keep out Krzysztof Maczynski, but the rebound off Grosicki bounced agonizingly wide to cause Germany a scare, although the Rennes attacker looked to be in an offside position when the initial shot was made.
Fabianski got down brilliantly to his left to keep out a Hummels header in the 72nd minute, but was cruelly beaten for Germany’s third.
The Swansea City keeper was unable to hold a deflected Muller strike from outside the box and the ball bounced out to Gotze for the simplest of finishes.
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