There’s no coverage here in the UK once again – ESPN are showing Scotland against Serbia – so it’s find the stream time again. I manage to find a pretty stable one from Al Jazeera, with commentary in English. Bonus.
Joachim Löw’s starting eleven is pretty much as expected, with like for like replacements coming in for those players either injured or suspended. Marco Reus is back in the side on the left of the midfield for Julian Draxler, the recalled Jérôme Boateng slots into the centre of the defence for Benedikt Höwedes, while İlkay Gündoğan is in for the suspended Bastian Schweinsteiger. The formation is the same basic 4-2-3-1 with Mario Götze playing the advanced “striker” role.
It’s a bitterly cold evening in Nürnberg, and the teams arrive on the field led by Turkish referee Halis Özkahya. Both sides are kitted out in the same colours as last time, with the Nationalmannschaft in their familiar Schwarz und Weiß and the Kazakhs in their rather natty blue outfit with neat yellow pinstripes.
1 min. The whistle blows, and the home side gets the game underway in front of a crowd of forty-three and a half thousand people. They are immediately looking to press.
2 mins. Götze gets a smack on the face with the ball and Germany are temporarily down to ten men as he goes off to clear a bloody nose.
4 mins. Germany are camping in the opposition half at the moment.
7 mins. A German move breaks down, and Kazakhstan put together their first move on the counter-attack with SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s Heinrich Schmidtgal winning his side the game’s first corner. The ball is swung in and Sergey Ostapenko rises above his marker to head just wide of the target.
10 mins. The massed white shirts make their way towards the opposition box, and Mesut Özil lays the ball across to İlkay Gündoğan who curls a well-struck right footed shot wide of the target.
12 mins. The first corner for the Mannschaft, but it is overhit and easily cleared by a blue-shirted defender.
13 min. Philipp Lahm picks up a loose pass in the middle of the field and finds FC Bayern team mate Thomas Müller, but the winger makes a hash of the opportunity.
14 mins. Sami Khedira almost unlocks the packed Kazakh defence to find Götze, who manages to evade a desperate challenge but is unable to connect.
16 mins. Kazakhstan are playing eleven men behind the ball at the moment, and everyone except Manuel Neuer is in the Kazakh half. Özil and Khedira team up again, but the German number six’s shot is easily blocked by Andrei Sidelnikov.
17 mins. Germany win a free-kick out on the left after Marcel Schmelzer is brought down, but Marco Reus’ free-kick is easily cleared.
19 mins. Jogi Löw’s side are cutting paths through the opposition defence at will, but there is no killer final ball. A low Reus cross is hacked away, and a Schmelzer cross from the left is badly overhit.
21 mins. The closest yet. Götze makes an excellent run down the right towards the byline, and swings the ball back towards the edge of the box where Gündoğan unleashes a delicious right-footed volley that pings off the woodwork with Sidelnikov beaten.
22 mins. It’s the post again to Kazakhstan’s rescue. Götze this time.
23 mins. Endlich. Özil picks the ball up out in the left just inside the opposition half, and exchanges a series of passes with Reus who cuts inside. The fleet-footed Dortmund man shows great skill to give himself time and space before lashing a low right-footed shot from twenty yards past Sidelnikov and into the back of the net. 1-0.
26 mins. The crowd are back in full voice now after what had been a dominant but frustrating opening twenty-five minutes.
27 mins. A magical run down the right and into the box by Lahm, who bursts past three men and skips the challenge of a fourth before slipping the ball inside to Götze who slides in to toe poke it past the ‘keeper from close range. 2-0.
28 mins. Straight from the kick-off there’s almost a third as Götze gets in another shot at goal, and the ball goes behind for a corner. No joy from that, unfortunately.
31 mins. Neat, crisp passing now from the Germans who are prowling patiently en masse in and outside the Kazakhstan penalty area. It’s pass after pass after pass, and having picked up a nice diagonal pass from Boateng Özil skips in from the right before dinking the ball into the box for Gündoğan to sweep it home and net his first international goal. 3-0. The were fifty-three passing moves in the buildup, covering two and a quarter minutes of unbroken possession.
34 mins. Lahm lets fly from distance, and the ball flies over the bar. It’s looking comfortable now, so why not.
35 mins. The ball makes it way into the German half, but Jérôme Boateng mops things up nicely.
39 mins. Time for a breather now, I think. There’s more neat possession play by the Nationalelf as they continue to keep the ball in the opposition half.
40 mins. Gündoğan and Götze weave into the box and almost produce another moment of Mannschaft magic.
41 mins. More neat feet at the edge of the Kazakh box, and it’s that man Gündoğan again who floats in a lovely dipping right-footed effort that skids off the top of the crossbar.
43 mins. German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer gets a cheer from the crowd as he collects a pass just inside the half-way line. I guess he hasn’t seen the ball for a while.
45 mins. There’s no additional time from the Turkish referee, and the half-time whistle blows.
After a frustrating first twenty-five minutes, three well-crafted goals in the space of ten minutes has lifted both the team and the home crowd. The man of the half has clearly been former 1. FC Nürnberg man Gündoğan, who could very well have had a hat-trick by now. The coach will surely be looking for more of the same in the second half.
46 mins. Kazakhstan set things in motion as the second half starts. They have made a change with Buarzhan Dzholchiev coming on for skipper Kairat Nurdauletov.
46 mins. And what’s this? A dreadful backpass from Per Mertesacker, and Neuer makes a complete hash of things in trying to play keeper-sweeper. The embarrassed German Torhüter desperately scrambles for the loose ball, but Schmidtgal is on hand to register Kazakhstan’s first international goal against Germany. 3-1.
50 mins. Boateng unleashes a shot at the Kazakh goal, which is deflected for a corner. The Eckball comes to nothing, but after picking the ball up out wide Reus blazes it over the bar.
53 mins. Neuer gets some ironic boos from the crowd as he collects an over hit long ball.
55 mins. There’s more loose stuff from the home side as the ball flashes across their penalty area box. Jogi Löw is nonplussed.
57 mins. Boateng lines up another shot from distance but screws his shot to the right of the target.
59 mins. Mesut Özil rolls a well-timed ball down the left to Reus, whose cross is cleared. There’s more neat little interchanges, but like the early part of the first half the final ball is just not quite right.
63 mins. Kazakhstan have been given the opportunity to play some football here, and the Germans look like they’ve slowed down a bit. Kazakhstan make their second change, as Zhambyl Kukeyev comes on for Ostapenko.
64 mins. A decent run by Schmelzer, who makes his way into the opposition penalty area before sliding his shot across the goal and wide of the target.
66 mins. Kazakhstan are defending far better at the moment, and are crowding out the white shirts effectively.
68 mins. Another German attempt to unpick the crowded opposition box results in an Özil corner, and Boateng sends in a looping header that goes narrowly wide of the target.
70 mins. Great work from Götze, but it’s one touch too many from Reus as another chance goes begging.
72 mins. It’s pinball wizard time here from Germany as they are denied on four occasions by both the woodwork and Sidelnikov in a matter of seconds. A pass from Reus gets helpfully deflected into the path of Götze by a defender, and the little man’s well-directed shot is well parried by the Kazakhstan ‘keeper. Müller’s dipping shot is then turned away by Sidelnikov. Straight to Özil, whose low angled shot from the right side of the six-yard box cannons off the inside of the far post. Then back out via Götze to Khedira, who sends in a firm right-footed effort only to see Sidelnikov dive brilliantly to left and turn it onto the other upright. Truly, crazy stuff.
74 mins. The increasingly impressive Sidelnikov pulls out another top-drawer save to deny Lahm who manages to get some decent leather on the ball after a fine interchange with Khedira.
75 mins. And again. Müller steals in on the right and send in a sweet little chip which the Kazakh ‘keeper turns onto the top of the crossbar.
76 mins. Germany win a free-kick out on the right, but Özil’s delivery is poor and a blue-shirted defender clears.
78 mins. Ulan Konysbaev is replaced by Dimitry Shomko as Kazakh coach Miroslav Beránek makes his final change.
79 mins. Kazakhstan win a free-kick, and Schmidtgal’s effort is almost turned in by Veleriy Korobkin whose shot skims the outside of the post. Kazakhstan are unlikely to pull off a Sweden-style recovery, but things are slightly uncomfortable to say the least on the German bench. There are some loud whistles from the restless crowd as well.
80 mins. Sidelnikov makes yet another excellent reaction save. Götze this time.
82 mins. Müller swings the ball from the right into the opposition box, but Reus makes a mess of the shot and sends it spinning well wide of the target.
86 mins. Now it’s Özil’s time to treat Row X to the ball.
87 mins. The ball is again in the Kazakh box, but there is no white shirt close enough and Sidelnikov confidently collects.
89 mins. Jogi Löw is apoplectic as the blue shirts beat the offside trap and almost score a second. The ubiquitous Schmidtgal’s shot is on target, but Lahm somehow keeps the ball out as it is hacked to safety. Marcell Jansen meanwhile is waiting on the touchline.
90 mins. You have to feel just a little bit sorry for Sidelnikov and Kazakhstan as Gündoğan makes a purposeful run down the left before threading a neat ball through for Reus – who coolly sweeps it into the net. 4-1. Almost immediately the goalscorer gives way to Marcell Jansen, who is making his first appearance since the World Cup finals in 2010.
90+2 mins. The final whistle blows.
A frustrating start, and overall what could be described as a rather schizophrenic performance from Jogi Löw’s side. Three lovely first-half goals, a complete farce to allow Kazakhstan to score, and an insane display from both the Kazakh post, bar and Andrei Sidelnikov. Nevertheless it’s three more points safely in the locker, and with Austria’s last-minute equaliser in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland it has been a pretty satisfactory evening all ’round.
The win takes Germany onto sixteen points out of a possible eighteen, eight points clear of Austria, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland. That’s it for the World Cup qualifiers for this season, with Germany’s next Group C match coming at the start of the 2013-14 season at Munich’s Allianz Arena against the Austrians.
I should be posting the usual post-match report and player ratings in the next couple of days – watch this space.
v Kazakhstan, Grundig-Stadion, Nürnberg, 26.03.2013
Reus 23., 90., Götze 27., Gündoğan 31. / Schmidtgal 46.
Germany: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Boateng, Schmelzer – Khedira, Gündogan – Müller, Özil, Reus (90. Jansen) – Götze
Kazakhstan: Sidelnikov – Gorman, Dmitrenko, Mukhtarov, Kirov – Nurdauletov (c) (46. Dzholchiev) – Konysbaev (78. Shomko), Korobkin, Engel, Schmidtgal – Ostapenko (64. Kukeyev)
Referee: Halis Özkahya (Turkey)
Assistants: Cem Satman, Volkan Narinç (Turkey)
Fourth Official: Mete Kalkavan (Turkey)
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –
Attempts on Target: 12 / 2
Attempts off Target: 16 / 2
Corners: 6 / 2
Fouls Committed: 6 / 9