Germany stretched their lead over Russia in World Cup qualifying by comfortably beating Azerbaijan 2-0 on Wednesday.
Goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose took
Germany four points clear of their chief Group Four rivals
Russia, who have a game in hand.
"We completed our mission and got the three points," said
Germany coach Joachim Loew. "But we had some problems as we
lacked rhythm and keeping the same pace for 90 minutes."
"It is important to improve as there are still nine points
up for grabs," said Loew.
Azerbaijan, under former Germany coach Berti Vogts, gave the
visitors an early scare when they beat the off-side trap but
failed to finish properly. The Germans then took command when
Schweinsteiger fired a thundering left-footed drive into the top
Klose, who somehow missed an open goal with a header from
two metres on the stroke of half-time, made amends following the
restart with an almost identical header after the ball had
bounced off the bar from a Mario Gomez shot.
After Schweinsteiger's spectacular finish in the 12th
minute, Piotr Trochowski could have doubled the German lead when
he connected with a deep cross but his header flew just wide.
The speedy midfielder caused considerable confusion in the
Azeri defence, floating free kicks and corners into the box for
the taller Germans, including captain Michael Ballack and
While far from convincing, with most players only now
starting their season, Germany were never really threatened by
their opponents, who have yet to score in this campaign.
The group winners qualify for the finals in South Africa
next year, with the eight best runners-up going through to a