Germany breeze past bright Kazakhstan in World Cup qualifiers
Germany extended their lead at the top of group C in the World Cup qualifiers to six points over Sweden with a win over Kazakhstan, although the Swedes can close down the gap again depending on their result against Ireland. Goals from Schweinsteiger, Gotze, and Muller gave the visitors a comfortable win, though not without a few moments of concern.
There were plenty of stars on display at the Astana arena in Kazakhstan as the German national side arrived with the intent of making significant progress in their World Cup qualification campaign. It was the little known name of Julian Draxler who showed the most promising signs over the opening exchanges though, drawing a couple of decent saves from Andrey Sidelnikov. The home side appeared to fairly comfortable on the ball themselves, venturing forward with some crisp passing.
Unfortunately for the Schalke star, his night had to be cut short after a clash left him complaining about his vision and he was replaced by Lukas Podolski. This was just after Mario Gotze had blasted a golden chance over the bar following a cross from Schweinsteiger from within the box. The home side continued to try and hit back on the counter, moving the ball with considerable pace every time they managed a spell of possession in between the German forays.
However, their defence was finally breached on the stroke of 20 minutes by Bastian Schweinsteiger. The midfielder did well to control a ball from Ozil before looping it over a defender with his right and finishing with the same foot, albeit with a deflection off Muller. The silence from the crowd was noticeable, and only got worse a couple of minutes later when the visitors scored again. Muller got involved in a scrap with a Kazakh defender over possession of the ball, and while it was eventually moved away from goal, it fell to Gotze, who casually floated it into the centre of the net. The rest of the half passed with relative ease for the lesser fancied side, with custodian Sidelnikov barely having a save to make and most of the crosses into the box were seen away easily.
The second half began on a much more promising note for the home side, who began on the front foot. A couple of forays into Neuer’s box were followed by a corner which was sent looping over by Ostapenko. The upswing in the mood of the crowd was heartening to see, and seemed to spur their players into defending better, seeing them make some impressive blocks. The fact that the visitors weren’t exactly putting their foot down on the gas only served to encourage the home side who were playing in blue.
Halfway through the second half, the crowd was at the most vocal as a shot from substitute Konysbaev had Neuer scrambling, but eventually rebounded into play off the cross bar. This was followed with a save at the near post by the German ‘keeper, and seemed to spur his lazy side into action. Three minutes later, Germany scored their third through Thomas Muller, who benefited off a pass from Ozil. The Real Madrid man had himself come into possession by chance after a mix up between two Kazakh defenders let the ball roll loose and it ended up at his feet.
The game descended into yet another lull before finally winding up with the scoreline at 3–0, sparing little credit for a spirited performance from the Kazakh side.
Result: Kazakhstan 0 – 3 Germany (Bastian Schweinsteiger 20’, Mario Gotze 23’, Thomas Muller 74’)