Germany edged closer to securing a place at next summer's World Cup finals with a comfortable victory over Azerbaijan in Hanover.
Michael Ballack opened the scoring with a penalty in the 14th minute, but
Germany coach Joachim Low would not have been happy with the remainder of the
first half as his side risked conceding an equaliser.
Their guests had Samir Abbasov sent off early in the second half and there was
no stopping Germany with a one-man advantage.
Two goals from Miroslav Klose and a Lukas Podolski strike sealed the
comprehensive win which keeps Germany top of qualifying Group Four by a single
point from Russia, who they meet in Moscow on October 10.
After making his full debut in the 2-0 win over South Africa at the weekend,
Mesut Ozil's name has become one of the first on Low's teamsheet and he showed
precisely why he is one of Germany's hottest properties at the moment.
He left three Azerbaijan defenders stranded as he moved into a position to
shoot in the seventh minute, but Kamran Agayev made his first save of a very
busy opening 15 minutes.
The visiting goalkeeper was called into action five minutes later by Ballack,
who tried his luck from long range before he was given the chance to open the
scoring from the penalty spot.
Podolski was fouled inside the area by Samir Abbasov and the Chelsea midfielder
stepped up to send Agayev the wrong way from the spot and give Germany a
The floodgates were expected to open and Mario Gomez should have added a second
two minutes later when he had a free header from Ballack's cross, but Agayev
made another save.
However, Germany lost their early momentum too quickly and even risked
conceding a goal before the interval when Olexandr Chertogan tested Rene Adler
from long range.
Adler tipped his shot over the crossbar before making a more difficult save to
deny Mahir Shukurov moments later.
Low brought Klose on at the interval and he made an instant impact, luring
Abbasov into a foul which earned the Azerbaijan captain his second yellow card
of the evening in the 50th minute before the Bayern Munich striker doubled
Germany's lead five minutes later.
He picked up the ball from Philipp Lahm before picking his spot past Agayev for
a goal which will come as a major fillip to a player who no longer has a
guaranteed place for club or country.
The goal certainly did do Klose good, as he showed in the 66th minute when he
provided an excellent finish to a deflected cross from Andreas Beck from just
inside the six-yard box.
Podolski got in on the action five minutes later when he added the fourth after
Ballack nodded Ozil's cross down to him inside the penalty area and Germany's
first-half struggles had been forgotten as they looked capable of scoring on
Klose was denied his hat-trick when another effort was correctly ruled out for
offside in the 73rd minute, but his two earlier goals had done enough damage to
earn Germany a vital three points.