[QODLink]
Football
Germany inch closer to Euro 2012 spot
Germany all but assure their place at Euro 2012 finals with a comfortable 3-1 victory in Azerbaijan.
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2011 21:46
Mesut Oezil, left, helps Germany maintain their 100% qualification record in Group A [EPA]

Germany coach Joachim Loew notched up seven wins from seven in his Euro 2012 qualifying campaign as Germany breezed past Azerbaijan 3-1 on Tuesday.

Mesut Oezil scored one goal and set up another as Germany all but qualified for next year's tournament, topping Group A with 21 points.

Elsewhere, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's hat trick in a 5-0 rout of Finland kept Sweden in the hunt for top spot in Group E.

Hungary stayed three points behind Sweden thanks to a 3-0 win in San Marino, Belarus beat Luxembourg 2-0 to close to within a point of Group D leader France, and there were also wins for Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Faeroe Islands in qualifying.

Preparation

Loew will have the luxury of almost a year to prepare for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

At the most Germany need three points from their final three games but will also qualify if third-placed Turkey, the only team who can catch them, fail to win all of their last four matches.

"You have to pay the team a huge compliment. I think we've played an excellent season,'' said Loew.

"After all, it's 24 days since the Bundesliga finished up. Of course you can also see that the players are at their limit after a long season.''

Oezil scored in the 30th minute, when he collected a cross from Benedikt Hoewedes outside the area, took two touches past two Azeri defenders and unleashed an angled shot that rebounded in off the post.

The Real Madrid midfielder set up Mario Gomez for a tap-in 11 minutes later.

Azerbaijan's Vugar Nadyrov had an effort ruled out for offside in the 64th, before Murad Huseynov scored a late consolation in the 89th.

Andre Schuerrle restored Germany's two-goal advantage in injury time.

Euro 2012 Results

Tuesday June 7

 
Azerbaijan 1-3 Germany
 Belarus 2-0 Luxembourg
 Sweden 5-0 Finland
 Bos-Herce 2-0 Albania
 Faroe Islands 2-0 Estonia
 San Marino 0-3 Hungary

"It was important to win today and to end the season with the seventh win,'' Germany captain Philipp Lahm said.

"It was a perfect season.''

It was the youngest ever Germany side to play in a competitive game, with Lahm the oldest player at 27. A host of injuries forced Loew to play his captain in an unaccustomed role in defensive midfield.

"It's very good news for German football that we have so many young players. That can only make us successful,'' said 21-year-old Thomas Mueller after his 18th international.

Substitute

In Stockholm, Ibrahimovic was a substitute after only recently recovering from an ankle injury but came on in the 25th as a replacement for the injured Ola Toivonen, with Sweden already 1-0 up through Kim Kallstrom's goal in the 12th.

After taking the captain's armband, Ibrahimovic slotted a low finish into the bottom corner in the 31st following a slide-rule pass from Kallstrom.

He then stroked the ball into an empty net four minutes later after Sebastian Larsson's cutback.

The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker clinched his hat trick with a free header at the back post from Kallstrom's inswinging 53rd-minute free kick, before setting up Emir Bajrami for Sweden's fifth in the 82nd. 

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
join our mailing list