Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 27th 2017 Contents A52 sports
guardian.co.tt Monday, March 27, 2017
Defending champion Germany
stayed perfect in World Cup qual-
ifying despite conceding its first
goal in Group C with a 4-1 win in
Azerbaijan yesterday. Little-used
forward Andre Schuerrle scored
two and set up another.
"We absolutely fulfilled our duty,"
Germany coach Joachim Loew said
after the fifth win from five games
in its group. "It was like a cup game
against a team from a lower division.
If you don't go in at the top of your
game, you make them stronger than
Germany has scored 20 goals so
far in its campaign and is looking to
clinch qualification as soon as pos-
sible. "We've always clearly won
against the smaller nations in the last
years and that's down to the players
that lead the team," Loew said.
Germany leads by five points from
Northern Ireland, which defeated
Norway 2-0 in Belfast thanks to
first-half goals from Jamie Ward
and Conor Washington.
The Czech Republic, which racked
up a 6-0 win in San Marino, is two
points further back, one ahead of
Azerbaijan. Two goals each from
Antonin Barak and Vladimir Darida,
and goals from Theodor Gebre Se-
lassie and Michal Krmencik, gave the
Czechs their biggest ever away win.
Loew had expressed his faith in
Schuerrle before the game in Baku,
despite the player making seven of his
15 Bundesliga appearances and five of
his six Champions League games as
a substitute for Borussia Dortmund
"I wasn't surprised," Loew said of
Schuerrle's performance after giving
the 26-year-old his first Germany
start for 1 1/2 years. "I hope it gives
him a boost for Dortmund."
Schuerrle broke the deadlock
in the 19th minute. Julian Draxler
spotted Jonas Hector free to his left
and passed for the defender to send
it straight back for Schuerrle, who
finished from close range.
Just as it seemed the visitors were
completely in control, Dimitrij Naz-
arov equalised in the 31st with a per-
fectly placed shot inside the far post
after four Germany defenders failed
to stop Afran Ismaylov from picking
him out. It was the first goal Germa-
ny had conceded in qualifiers for the
2018 tournament in Russia.
"I would have liked that we made
fewer mistakes after taking the lead,"
Loew said. "We lost our way."
Thomas Mueller restored the lead
minutes later, running into Schuer-
rle's pass, taking it past the goalkeep-
er with his right foot and finishing
into the empty net with his left.
Joshua Kimmich crossed for Mario
Gomez to make it 3-1 with a head-
er before the break. The home side
started the second half with renewed
vigour, though without troubling
Bernd Leno, playing instead of the
injured Manuel Neuer in the Ger-
Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil
came on for the final half-hour, but
it was Schuerrle who had the final
say, blasting the ball to the roof of
the net from Hector's pull-back to
complete the scoring in the 81st. (AP)
Germany's Jonas Nestor, left, and
Azerbaijan's Afran Ismayilov challenge
for the ball during their World Cup
Group C qualifying match at the Tofig
Bahramov Stadium in Baku,
Azerbaijan, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Poland's Robert Lewandowski, right, challenges Montenegro's Nikola
Vukcevic, during their World Cup Group E qualifying soccer match at the
City Stadium in Podorica, Montenegro, yesterday. AP PHOTO
perfect in Europe
it needs Robert Lewandowski as
much as Portugal needs Cris-
Captain Lewandowski scored yes-
terday to help Poland cement its top
place in Group E with a 2-1 victory
at second-placed Montenegro, and
continue his own battle with Ron-
Midway through the campaign,
the Bayern Munich star has eight
goals. That's just one less than Ron-
aldo, who is the top scorer in quali-
fying. Ronaldo scored twice in a 3-0
victory over Hungary on Saturday
in Group B.
Poland opened a six-point lead in
its group with 13 points, with Mon-
tenegro and Denmark both on seven.
Lewandowski struck five minutes
before the interval from a perfectly
executed free kick.
Poland looked in control in the
second half before Stefan Mugo-
sa beat the Polish offside trap and
goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in a rare
scoring chance for the hosts. It was
Mugosa's first international goal.
Lukasz Piszczek restored the Pol-
ish lead nine minutes from time.
ROMANIA 0, DENMARK 0
Both teams wasted some clear-cut
chances and missed an opportunity
to move to second, leaving the fight
over the playoff spot in the group
Romania has six points, trailing
Denmark and Montenegro by one.
The match was played in the city
of Cluj after FIFA banned the hosts
from using the national stadium in
the capital, Bucharest, after previous
ARMENIA 2, KAZAKHSTAN 0
Armenia needed just two min-
utes in the second half to deal with
ten-man Kazakhstan for a second
straight victory under new coach
The game was still 0-0 when
Sergey Malyy was sent off after
receiving his second yellow card in
the 64th. Kazakhstan paid the price
when Manchester United midfielder
Henrikh Mkhitaryan nine minutes
later with a low shot and substitute
Aras Ozbiliz doubled the advantage
after two minutes in the 75th, just
five minutes after he came on.
After straight three losses at the
beginning of the campaign, Arme-
nia has rebounded with two victories
and is just a point behind a playoff
Kazakhstan remains bottom with
Lewandowski scores again as...
Poland 6 points
clear in Group E
LONDON---Jermain Defoe was
struggling to contain his emo-
tions even before scoring on his
return from England exile in a
2-0 World Cup qualifying win
Although Joe Hart wore the cap-
tain's armband, Defoe was allowed
to lead the Group F leaders out onto
the Wembley Stadium field yester-
day with a terminally ill five-year-
The Sunderland striker has
formed a bond with cancer-stricken
Bradley Lowery in the northeast and
he wanted to give his "best mate"
the chance to see him score for
It hadn't happened for four years
but the 34-year-old Defoe delivered
21 minutes into his 56th appearance.
Raheem Sterling glided through the
defence and provided a sweet cross
for Defoe to net his 20th interna-
"I had to keep my emotions in the
beginning with little Brad with me,"
Defoe said after his first England
appearance since November 2013.
"It was special just to be back
and playing with the lads is a great
Injuries to strikers Harry Kane
and Daniel Sturridge, allied with his
strong scoring form for Sunderland,
gave the 34-year-old Defoe a route
back into the international fold.
During his time away from the
England setup, Defoe has left the
Premier League for FC Toronto in
Canada and returned with bot-
tom-placed Sunderland but he
hasn't lost his scoring instinct.
"I'd put my house on him scoring
at some stage," said manager Ga-
reth Southgate, who was playing
for England when Defoe made his
debut in 2004.
"He's had a really positive impact
on everyone ... he was thrilled to be
back involved in the squad."
Defoe scores on return for England in front of ill friend RESULTS
Azerbaijan 1 - 4 Germany
San Marino 0 - 6 Czech Republic
N Ireland 2 - 0 Norway
Armenia 2 - 0 Kazakhstan
Montenegro 1 - 2 Poland
Romania 0 - 0 Denmark
England 2 - 0 Lithuania
Malta 1 - 3 Slovakia
Scotland 1 - 0 Slovenia
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