Kazakhstan vs Germany: Five talking points
Germany put memories of their 4 – 4 draw with Sweden to bed with a convincing win over Kazakhstan in their World Cup qualifier match last night. Joachim Loew’s men barely broke into a sweat on their visit to Astana and came away with a comfortable 3 – 0 win which was not bereft of a couple of anxious moments. Here are five talking points from the game.
It was a goal which, upon closer scrutiny, must have been awarded to Thomas Muller, but set Germany on their way nonetheless. Schweinsteiger played an integral role in it as well, doing well to control the ball from Ozil before flicking it over a defender and unleashing an effort at goal. The fact that it was off target before taking a deflection was not evident in open play and saw the goal awarded to the veteran midfielder.
It was an important goal for Germany, looking back at the game, as it came at a time when the home side were still recovering from the concession of their first goal and made the most of some shoddy defensive work. It also came at a time when Germany were just beginning to get cozy on the pitch, and allowed them to do so without any real risk to their three points. The goal itself involved a scrap between Muller and a Kazakh defender in the box, with the latter seemingly being pushed in the proceedings; but the ball rolled out to Gotze at the same time as the ‘keeper tried to come and smother it. This left the Dortmund man with an empty net to aim at, and he made no mistake hitting the centre of his target.
With the score at 2–0 and an increasingly lethargic Germany content with that margin of lead, there was an occasion which nearly changed the entire course of the game. The Kazakh attack, which had largely been toothless, almost found an unlikely hero in the form of substitute Ulan Konysbaev mere minutes after he had entered the fray. Out of nowhere, Manuel Neuer found himself scrambling to stop an effort from the 23-year-old, failed to do so, and finally thanked the heavens as his cross bar stopped the ball, which bounced back into play.
This came as more of a response to the growing threat of the home side than anything else as the Germans proved that they had simply too much quality amid their ranks. A scramble between two home players saw the ball fall loose and find its way into the path of Mesut Ozil. The Real Madrid man almost had it caught under his feet, but sorted it out just in time to roll it into the path of Muller. The Bayern Munich man made no mistake slotting it into the back of the net, leaving the ‘keeper no chance and putting his team well and truly beyond their opponents’ reach.
Often, when a star-studded team visits the stadium of an unknown or very little fancied opponent, one sees the home crowd also go crazy in support of their mighty opposition, cheering for all the big names which grab the headlines. This night, at the Astana stadium, there was to be none of it, as the home crowd had cheers for one side only – theirs. A healthy respect for the visitors was maintained no doubt, but the collective silence of the crowd when Germany scored, along with their vocal support when Kazakhstan ventured forward was a subtle joy to watch.