Professional, workmanlike, and three more points safely in the bag.

With the game not being show here in the UK it was stream time again, and luckily I was able to find a decent and fairly stable pipeline of ARD’s coverage where I was greeted by the familar tones of Béla Réthy.

It is a cool and dry night in Astana as both sides take to the stadium’s artificial pitch. Germany are in their traditional white shirts and black shorts, while the home side are in what looks like a new all blue kit with yellow trim. That’s right, I said dry “night”: Kazakhstan is five hours ahead of Germany and five ahead of the United Kingdom: if you can believe it, it’s just after midnight local time.

The home crowd are in good voice, and there are plenty of German supporters in the crowd. Indeed, there are a couple of “Germans” on the pitch in the blue of Kazakhstan in the form of SpVgg Greuther Fürth defender Heinrich Schmidtgal and FC Energie Cottbus defender Konstantin Engel.

1 min. Germany get things underway.

3 mins. The first half-chance goes to the home side as Mario Götze carelessly loses possession allowing a swift break up the pitch. The ball flies high over the bar.

5 mins. Götze has a change to make amends for his error almost immediately, but the ball is just a little too far ahead of him allowing ‘keeper Andrei Sidelnikov to gather. Götze has quickly taken up an advanced position, and is clearly the “false nine”.

7 mins. Probably the best chance so far, and Marcel Schmelzer and teenager Julian Draxler combine effectively down the left flank. The Dortmund left back delivers a crisp pass for the Schalke youngster, who can only push the ball wide of the target and into the side netting.

11 mins. Kazakhstan full-back Yuri Logvinenko is booked for a badly-executed challenge on Thomas Müller; the free-kick is taken by Özil, but it is hit rather disappointingly against the bright blue wall.

13 mins. The Mannschaft have their first shot on target, as Draxler sends a gently curling shot that is easily dealt with by ‘keeper Sidelnikov.

17 mins. Draxler goes up for the ball against defender Mark Gorman, but clearly comes off second best. The young midfielder is looking particularly groggy, and it doesn’t look as though he can continue.

18 mins. Jogi Löw’s side are temporarily down to ten men, but this doesn’t stop Bastian Schweinsteiger who makes his way into the opposition penalty area and finds Götze with a neatly-timed flick. The BVB man’s shot is poor however, and he send the ball flying over the crossbar.

19 mins. With the ball out of play German coach Löw can finally get the injured Draxler off the field. He is replaced by Lukas Podolski, who probably didn’t think he see any action until at least the second half. Someone is clearly looking down on him.

20 mins. The whippet-like Özil makes his way down the left and sweeps in a sharp cross, and Schweinstieger latches onto the chance. He shows great skill to flick the ball over his opponent and create enough space for himself before sending a firm right-footed volley that takes the slightest of deflections off Müller’s chest before flying past the helpless Sidelnikov. 1-0.

22 mins. After a twenty-minute wait, two come at once. The busy Thomas Müller makes a nuisuance of himself in the Kazakh box and stabs a shot towards goal, and Sidelnikov comes charging off his line. Unfortunately for the hapless Kazakh Torhüter the ball falls nicely into the path of Götze, who finishes things off. 2-0.

27 mins. Germany appear to have switched down a gear here. Neat moves, some languid passing, and not much else at the moment.

33 mins. The home crowd are getting a little restless at the Mannschaft’s possession football, but when they see that half-chance the Germans are quick to pounce. Götze sends Müller free down the right, but the FC Bayern München man’s cross is blocked by the foot of Aleksandr Kirov.

36 mins. Maksat Baizhanov is on for Valeriy Korobkin as Kazakhstan’s Czech coach Miroslav Beránek makes his first change.

42 mins. With half time approaching Germany seem prepared to pass the ball around, looking for the quick killer pass that is not coming off. Their sitting back allows the home team to come back into the game, but all they find in front of them is a solid white wall.

45+1 mins. Kazakhstan finish the half strongly, as Baurzhan Dzholchiyev makes a good run down the right. His cross however is not so good, Germany regain possession and see out the half.

It has been a solid if not particularly spectacular display by the Nationalmannschaft with both goals coming in a ninety-second purple patch, but in games like this it is always the result that counts. Kazakhstan have been bright in parts but the gulf in ability between the two sides is fairly evident; Germany had retained the ball brilliantly with what has been a very deliberate and clinical display of possession football.

46 mins. The home side get the second half under way.

47 mins. Müller is clattered in the opposition half but the Greek referee waves play on. Kazakhstan are looking to play a little now, and Schmidtgal is making plenty of moves forward.

49 mins. Another good break from the home side sees Sergei Ostapenko almost put free out on the right, but Schmelzer quells the threat.

51 mins. A German moves breaks down, and the Kazakhs storm out again through the enterprising Schmidtgal. Dzholchiyev wins a corner that comes to nothing.

53 mins. Yet another lapse in concentration in midfield sees Marat Khairullin break out on the right and unleash a shot on target, but Neuer collects safely. Kazakhstan have definitely had the better of this opening ten minutes of the second half, and Neuer finally manages to get his hands on the ball.

56 mins. Podolski bustles through the opposition defence and has two shots in the general direction of the opposition goal, but both are easily blocked.

57 mins. A nice little move between Schweinsteiger, Götze and Özil is ended when the number eight is upended right on the edge of the penalty area, and Valeriy Korobkin is booked. Schweinsteiger’s free-kick smashes against the wall, and the blue-shirted Kazakhs clear their lines.

59 mins. The initial burst from the home side appears to have ended, and the Mannschaft are starting to exercise a little more control and gain more possession in midfield. Podolski has a shot which is beaten away by Sidelnikov.

60 mins. Podolski wins a corner out on the left, but Götze’s curling kick is easily collected by the Kazakh ‘keeper.

65 mins. Kazakh midfielder Viktor Dmitrenko is booked for a ugly-looking challenge on Götze.

67 mins. More pretty small passing moves from the Germans, but there’s nothing special coming at the end of these sequences. Götze warms Sidelnikov’s hands with a well-aimed snapshot, but the Kazakh ‘keeper is equal to it.

69 mins. The home side come close to getting themselves on the board as Ostapenko sets up sub Ulan Konysbayev whose right-footed shot from twenty yards crashes against the crossbar with Neuer well beaten.

70 mins. Schweinsteiger gets a booking for a silly foul on the energetic Konysbayev, and is now out of the return match in Nürnberg. The ball is lifted high into the German box, and Neuer collects.

71 mins. Schmidtgal is somehow able to find acres of space out on the left, and fires in a stinging shot that Neuer turns around for a corner. This is a clear case of a second second-half wind for the home side.

74 mins. Completely against the run of play, Germany flick the switch. The energetic Müller holds off a firm challenge and finds Götze, to plays a neat ball in to Özil who is advancing towards the Kazakh goal. A neat little reverse flicked pass inside from the playmaker, and from twelve yards out Müller sweeps the ball into the net to complete a well-worked move. 3-0.

78 mins. After a bright period that saw them come close to scoring their first goal against Germany, the stuffing appears to have been knocked out of the hosts. The Mannschaft are finding it far easier to keep hold of the ball, and are surely going to be looking for a fourth goal.

82 mins. It’s a double change for Germany as André Schürrle and Ilkay Gündoğan come on for Müller and Khedira. It has been yet another solid performance from Khedira, and with his second international goal in two goals Müller is clearly back to form in the Schwarz und Weiß. Kazakhstan also make a change, as the impressive Ostapenko is replaced by Kazbek Geteriyev.

84 mins. Some crisp German passing sees Schürrle presented with an opportunity from some twenty yards out, but he scuffs his shot well wide of the target.

86 mins. The Germans are passing the ball around for fun now as they look to close out the match, and the enthusiastic home crowd have broken into a Mexican wave.

89 mins. Konysbayev looks to break forward, but is clumsily brought down by Benedikt Höwedes who receives the yellow card. A silly and unnecessary challenge.

90+2 mins. Schmelzer almost scores a fourth for the Germans with a fierce effort that flies wide of the opposition goal.

90+3 mins. The final whistle is blown.

A few hairy moments – and some lazy ones – but it’s a pretty comfortable 3-0 victory for Jogi Löw’s side against a game but limited Kazakh team. It’s a clean sheet for Manuel Neuer and a solidly professional rather than spectacular performance from the Mannschaft – but perhaps more crucially three more points on the board.

There will be the usual in-depth report to come, with the usual player ratings. For now, let’s look forward to next Tuesday and Nürnberg.

v Kazakhstan, Astana-Arena, Astana, 22.03.2013

3-0 (2-0)
Müller 20., 74., Götze 22. / –

Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Höwedes, Schmelzer – Khedira (82. Gündoğan), Schweinsteiger – Müller (82. Schürrle), Özil, Draxler (19. Podolski) – Götze

Kazakhstan: Sidelnikov – Gorman, Logvinenko, Dmitrenko, Kirov – Nurdauletov (c), Baizhanov (36. Korobkin)- Dzholchiev, Khayrullin (65. Konizbaev), Schmidtgal – Ostapenko (82. Geteriyev)

Referee: Anastasios Kakos (Greece)
Assistants: Christos Akrivos, Dimitrios Tatsis (Greece)
Fourth Official: Athanassios Giachos (Greece)

Yellow Cards: Schweinsteiger 70., Höwedes 89. / Logvinenko 11., Korobkin 56., Dmitrenko 65.
Red Cards: – / –

Attempts on Target: 6 / 2
Attempts off Target: 17 / 5
Corners: 4 / 3
Fouls Committed: 6 / 9

Attendance: 30,000

Professional, workmanlike, and three more points safely in the bag.

2 thoughts on “Professional, workmanlike, and three more points safely in the bag.

  • March 23, 2013 at 04:40

    I believe that Sweden losing two points at home to Ireland was the highlight of the evening. Do you know what happened with Draxler? Is it serious?

    • March 23, 2013 at 15:49

      Agreed, the goalless draw between Sweden and the Irish was a nice bonus.

      Draxler sufferred from concussion and is OK, but for safety reasons has been ruled out of Tuesday’s game. Benni Höwedes is also out with a slight thigh strain. Löw has brought Sven Bender back in (he has recovered from the flu that kept him out originally) and of course Marco Reus will be back in after serving his one-match ban.

      Conversely, Bastian Schweinsteiger is out after getting book on Friday but İlkay Gündoğan should be able to provide ample cover.


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