Azerbaijan Germany 2 (Schweinstager 12, Klose 54)
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose scored the goals as Germany consolidated their lead at the top of Group Four with a hard fought victory against a plucky Azerbaijan in Baku.
There was a partisan atmosphere inside the Tofik Bahkramov stadium as Berti Vogts welcomed his native countrymen for the qualifier. However, it was the Germans who produced the workmanlike performance needed to leave with three crucial points.
It was the hosts who made the brighter start though, as Mahir Shukurov produced an excellent cross from the right that neither of his attackers was able to connect with.
Moments later Vagir Javadov found himself clear from a through ball, but Robert Enke came off his line early to thwart the striker.
The positive start by Azerbaijan counted for nothing on 12 minutes with the opening goal falling to Germany. Some slick passing moved the Germans through the Azeri defence and the ball fell to Schweinsteiger on the edge of the box. The Bayern midfielder shifted the ball onto his left foot, before curling a shot just under the bar.
The Germans were still finding it hard to settle after the goal and Azerbaijan continued to equip themselves well and cause some headaches of their own. As the match drifted towards half-time Germany had a couple of opportunities to deliver dangerous set-pieces into the penalty area, but neither of them were able to find the necessary craft to extend the visitors lead.
Azerbaijan caused chaos in the German defence again on 40 minutes when Elnur Allagverdiyev surged past a couple of defenders before being denied by the out-rushing Enke.
Germany on the other hand were given a glorious chance to double their lead just before the interval, but Klose headed down and over when you would have bet your house on him scoring.
He missed another simple header from six yards midway through the second half, but at least by then he had put his name on the scoresheet. Klose was on hand to nod the ball in after Mario Gomez’s shot was tipped on to the crossbar by Farhad Valiyev to give Germany a two-goal cushion in the 54th minute.
The Germans were visibly a class above their opponents now, but Azerbaijan managed to contain their attacking threat and produce another chance of their own.
Javadov curled a shot high and wide from inside the penalty box in the 65th minute after outwitting two defenders on the touchline.
After this fatigue appeared to affect the hosts and in the end Germany eased to the three points with a couple of minor scares along the way. Azerbaijan are still yet to score in the group and face the same opposition again on September 9th. As for the Germans, they are now four points clear in the group. However, Russia have a match in hand and are still to host Germany in Moscow which means this group could still go down to the wire.
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