Sunday 24 September 2017

Klose's record feat leaves Austrians on ropes

GERMANY 3 AUSTRIA 0

Germany's Miroslav Klose celebrates his goal against Austria
Germany's Miroslav Klose celebrates his goal against Austria

AUSTRIA can knock Ireland out of the World Cup qualification race on Tuesday if they manage to bounce back from this humbling by table-toppers Germany in Munich.

Despite all their talk beforehand of shocking the Germans, the visitors only shocked themselves with an underwhelming display at the Allianz Arena.

Their plans to maintain the creative spark so evident in their last qualifier against Sweden suffered a blow beforehand with Zlatko Junuzovic's failure to overcome an injury. His replacement on the right flank, Andreas Ivanschitz, struggled badly to replicate the Werder Bremen man's impact and was substituted with 25 minutes left.

Once the Germans absorbed some early pressure, especially a third-minute header from Emanuel Pogatetz which sailed over, their class translated into a dominant first-half display.

Midway through the half, Arsenal's €40m recuit Mesut Ozil blazed over from 12 yards. As the half-hour approached, Rene Adler came to Austria's rescue by scampering back to punch a Miroslav Klose header over from under his crossbar.

It was just a matter of time, however, for the one-way traffic to deliver a goal and it proved an historic one for Klose. In the 33rd minute, Marco Reus released Thomas Muller into space on the right and the winger's low cross was slid home from six yards by the 35-year-old.

That opener was followed by the number 68 being displayed across the giant screens inside the stadium, denoting Klose's feat of equalling of Gerd Muller's all-time scoring record.

The waves of German attacks resumed after the break, and they doubled their lead in the 51st minute.

Reus was afforded plenty of room on the left to tee up Toni Kroos, who unleashed a shot from 25 yards with the outside of the right foot which nestled into the far corner.

That goal made it even more of a cakewalk for the Germans in the final half-hour. To compound Austria's woe, a third goal was deposited two minutes from full-time time after another trademark passing move.

Interval substitute Benedikt Howedes was the raiding full-back to benefit on this occasion when he soared to the end-line. His low cross was tapped home by Muller for his 15th international goal.

In the end, Marcel Koller's team seemed glad to escape with just a three-goal defeat. Perhaps they'll get more freedom to regain their qualification prospects from Ireland on Tuesday.

GERMANY – Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Mertesacker, Schmelzer (Howedes 46); Khedira, Kroos; Muller, Ozil, Reus (Draxler 90); Klose (Bender 81).

AUSTRIA – Almer; Garics (Klein 76), Dragovic, Pogatetz, Fuchs; Kavlak (Baumgartlinger 67), Alaba; Arnautovic, Harnik, Ivanschitz (Sabitzer 67); Weimann.

Ref – M Mazic (Serbia)

Irish Independent

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