Germany progress to Euro 2012 finals after win over Austria

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Germany became the first team to book their Euro 2012 place through the qualification groups as they hammered neighbours Austria 6-2 here on Friday.

This was the Germans’ eighth straight qualification victory, giving Joachim Loew’s side an unassailable 24 points at the top of Group A to leave second-placed Turkey 11 points adrift.

Plucky Austria, however, exposed some weaknesses in the Germany defence and both Austrian goals ere scored by players who ply their trade in the German Bundesliga.

Despite the hosts making an explosive start to the game, it suggested Loew still has some fine-tuning to do if Germany are to challenge at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and the Ukraine next June.

Germany cruised into a 3-0 lead after 28 minutes thanks to goals by Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, who added a second after the break, and Lukas Podolski.

Austria got back into the game as first Werder Bremen’s Marko Arnautovic, then Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik scored to keep the guests in the chase.

But German replacements Andre Schuerrle and teenage star Mario Goetze scored in the final ten minutes to add lustre to the win.

This was the first time Germany had conceded two goals in their qualification games since their Euro 2012 campaign began almost exactly a year ago.

The hosts took the lead after just eight minutes at Gelsinkirchen’s Veltins Arena when Klose latched onto an Ozil volley and, with the slightest of touches, deflected the shot into the net past Austrian goalkeeper Christian Gratzei.

It was the 33-year-old’s 62nd goal on his 111th appearance for Germany and inches him ever closer to 1970s’ legend Gerd Mueller’s record of 68 goals in 62 games as Germany’s top goal-scorer of all-time.

Playmaker Ozil then turned goal-scorer when he chipped Gratzei on 23 minutes after taking a pass from Klose.

Soon after, defender Holger Badstuber freed up Podolski on the left and the 26-year-old Cologne star fired home for his 43rd goal on his 91st appearance for his country.

Austria came back into the game as Arnautovic fired home a header for the visitors on 42 minutes after he slipped his marker.

Germany lost defender Benedikt Hoewedes at the break with a thigh strain, but Ozil ghosted past two defenders on 47 minutes to score Germany’s fourth, only for Austria to reply four minutes later with a goal from VfB Stuttgart striker Harnik.

Having come off the bench for Podolski, Bayer Leverkusen’s Schuerrle scored in the 84th minute to claim his second goal in two games having also netted when he came off the bench in last month’s 3-2 win over Brazil.

Goetze, who helped orchestrate the win over the South Americans, then came off the bench to hit the sixth goal on 88 minutes. He is now expected to start Tuesday’s international friendly against Poland in Gdansk.

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