Sat, Jun 02, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Germany labor to win over minnows Israel

AFP, LEIPZIG, GERMANY

Germany’s Mario Gomez, third right, scores past Israel’s Tal Ben Haim, third left, and Eitan Tibi, left, in their international friendly in Leipzig, Germany, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Germany labored to a 2-0 friendly win over minnows Israel on Thursday to pick up their first victory in three games and boost flagging confidence ahead of their Euro 2012 campaign.

Having suffered a shock 5-3 defeat to Switzerland in Basel last Saturday, the Germans managed to avoid their third straight defeat of the year, having also lost to France in February, in their final Euro 2012 warm-up match.

A first-half goal from Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez put the hosts ahead, before Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Andre Schuerrle came off the bench to double the lead eight minutes from time with a superb long-range strike.

However, there was little else to cheer German fans on a damp night in Leipzig and captain Philipp Lahm succinctly summed up his team’s performance.

“We have a sensational squad, we only need to show it,” Lahm said.

Germany coach Joachim Loew was happy with the victory, even if his team failed to impress in front of goal.

“That was a decent final test for us, it will give us some momentum,” Loew said.

Having fielded an experimental team in Basel, Loew opted for the side which is more likely to start the opening Euro 2012 game against Portugal next Saturday in Lviv, Ukraine.

Vice captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, missing his sixth straight international and nursing a calf strain from the Champions League final, was the only noticeable absentee as seven Bayern Munich stars started for Germany.

Schweinsteiger’s club teammate Toni Kroos slotted into the midfield defensive role alongside Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira as the hosts spent the opening 20 minutes camped in the Israel half.

Gomez tested Israel goalkeeper Ariel Harush early on and defender Jerome Boateng hit the left post with a well-timed shot.

Heavy rain affected the game’s tempo and it took a clever pass Khedira, which eventually landed at Gomez’s feet, for the Bayern star to fire home and break the deadlock on 40 minutes.

After the halftime break, Israel coach Eli Gutmann made three changes, including taking off captain Yossi Benayoun of Chelsea.

It was replacement Gil Vermouth who first tested Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with a well-timed drive on 54 minutes which the Bayern star had to tip over the crossbar.

It proved to be the wakeup call Germany needed as Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski found plenty of space down the left flank and looked increasingly dangerous, before making way for Schuerrle on 66 minutes.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Bayern’s Thomas Mueller wasted a golden chance to make it 2-0 when he fired wide with scarce pressure from the tiring guests’ defense.

Schuerrle made sure of Germany’s win when he unleashed a fierce drive on 82 minutes, but with Portugal, World Cup finalists the Netherlands and Denmark awaiting them in Group B, Germany can expect much tougher challenges in Ukraine and Poland.

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