Mario Gomez continued his rich vein of form as Germany maintained their perfect record in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group A and secured a top-two finish in the process.
FC Bayerm München striker Gomez supplemented Mesut Özil’s opener with his 13th goal in his last eight matches for club and country four minutes before half-time. Though Azerbaijan’s hopes of an unlikely draw increased when substitute Murad Huseynov pulled one back with a minute remaining, any prospect of Berti Vogts’s team claiming a point were extinguished through fellow replacement André Schürrle.
Proceedings could have unfolded differently had Vugar Nadyrov’s early strike from 25 metres found the net rather than being tipped on to the bar by Manuel Neuer. Toni Kroos then hit the woodwork at the other end with a free-kick before his shot from the edge of the penalty area was expertly saved by Kamran Agayev.
The breakthrough arrived on the half-hour mark, though, with Özil picking up Benedikt Höwedes’s cross from the right, surging past a defender and firing in from a tight angle via the far post. Scorer then turned provider as an exquisite pass from Özil teed up the hitherto quiet Gomez for the simplest of finishes.
Azerbaijan responded with Aleksandr Chertoganov and Vagif Javadov having efforts before the break, while on the hour Philipp Lahm was thwarted by a clutch of home defenders after being released by Kroos. Gomez, who was denied by Agayev when one on one with the Azerbaijan keeper, Özil and Huseynov all threatened to get on the scoresheet before the home No9 did so when the ball fell kindly at his feet in the area.
Schürrle put Germany’s seventh successive victory in the section beyond doubt in added time, leaving Joachim Löw’s charges in buoyant mood ahead of their next game in the group, at home to Austria on 2 September, when they could book their place in Poland and Ukraine. Even now, only Turkey are still able to catch them.
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