GELSENKIRCHEN - Germany became
the first team to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals with a 6-2
mauling of neighbours Austria on Friday after playmaker Mesut
Ozil scored two goals and set up another.
Three-times European champions Germany are clear at the top
of Group A with eight wins out of eight matches so far and
cannot be caught as they seek to become the first German team to
win all their matches in a qualifying campaign.
Austria are stuck on seven points from seven games in fourth
place behind Turkey on 13 and Belgium on 12 from eight games.
Germany visit Turkey on October 7 and host Belgium in their
final qualifier four days later as they seek a 100 percent
Germany got off to a flying start with Miroslav Klose
scoring after nine minutes when he got a slight deflection on a
shot by Ozil from the edge of the box for his 62nd goal in 111
Klose, 33, is now just six goals short of equalling Gerd
Muller's Germany record of 68 international goals, though the
former Bayern Munich striker needed just 62 matches.
The imperious Ozil combined with Klose to add the second
goal in the 23rd after rounding the keeper before Lukas Podolski
struck a powerful left-footer five minutes later for a 3-0 lead.
"We played an amazing qualification [campaign] and we could
not have qualified earlier than today," coach Joachim Low told
"But we need to keep up the pressure in the team. This is
how I like my team to play. I prefer to have more action up
front and if you play like you can sometimes let a goal in."
This is exactly what happened three minutes before the break
when Austria's Marko Arnautovic, recalled after being dropped
several months ago following a row with team mates, headed in a
Florian Klein cross to cut the deficit.
Martin Harnik also scored for the visitors minutes after
Ozil had restored Germany's three-goal lead with another
deflected effort from the left in the 47th.
But it was Germany's night and substitutes Andre Schuerrle
and Mario Gotze, with a well-timed volley, wrapped up a seventh
straight win over Austria with two goals in the last six minutes
as the fans in the Schalke arena stood to applaud Low's team.
"It does not matter who scores, whether it was Miroslav or
me in the first goal, we had a super performance," said Ozil.
"I am delighted to have scored but first of all I am
satisfied by our team performance."
For Austria, it was another disappointing campaign that
could end with coach Didi Constantini leaving.
"Obviously, when a team loses the coach is the first one to
be blamed," Austria captain Christian Fuchs told reporters.
we made our own life hard with far too many mistakes. You cannot
play like that against Germany."
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