Striker Mario Gotze scored twice to seal Germany’s 3-1 win over Poland on Friday as the hosts avenged last year’s away defeat to top their Euro 2016 qualifying group.
Having lost the corresponding fixture 2-0 in Warsaw last October — Germany’s first defeat to their neighbours in 19 matches — the world champions gained sweet revenge by knocking Adam Nawalka’s Poland from top of Group D.
It was Poland’s first defeat in seven Euro 2016 qualifiers in an impressive display from the Germans after several below-par performances last season.
All four goals were scored by Bayern Munich players
All four goals came from Bayern Munich players as Thomas Mueller gave Germany an early lead, then Gotze made it 2-0 before Poland captain Robert Lewandowski pulled one back with a diving header as it finished 2-1 at the break.
Mueller and Gotze then combined for Germany’s third on 82 minutes to kill off hopes of a late Poland equaliser
“We really wanted the three points to take first place,” said Gotze, who also cleared a first-half Lewandowski header off the line.
“I was in the right place at the right time for the header off the line.
“I only found out I was playing on Thursday and it was great to get two goals. Things certainly could have gone a lot worse for me tonight.”
Georgia’s 1-0 home win over Scotland, who Germany play in Glasgow on Monday, and Ireland’s 4-0 thumping of minnows Gibraltar means Germany are top with 16 points with Poland now second on 14 while Ireland go third with 12, one ahead of the Scots.
Poland host Gibraltar in Warsaw on Monday having routed the part-timers 7-0 away last year.
Emre Can made his debut for Die Mannschaft
Germany coach Joachim Loew sprang a surprise before kick-off by naming Liverpool midfielder Emre Can at right-back to give the 21-year-old his debut.
The game started at a high-paced tempo in Frankfurt and Germany scored off their first clear chance.
A superb exchange of passes with Karim Bellarabi put Cologne left-back Jonas Hector in behind the defence and he squared for Mueller to fire home on 12 minutes.
The hosts doubled their lead six minutes later when World Cup final winner Gotze cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce drive, which gave Poland’s Swansea City goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski little chance just inside the near post.
Poland were rewarded for a sustained period of pressure when left winger Kamil Grosicki powered down the left wing, with Can out of position, curled in a superb cross and Lewandowski powered the ball home with a superb diving header on 36 minutes.
It was his eighth goal in Poland’s qualifying campaign.
The manner in which Lewandowski hastily gathered the ball from the net, punching the air with delighted, sent a clear message that Germany had a fight on their hands.
Early in the first half, Loew brought on Ilkay Gundogan for Bellarabi, who provided a superb pass to Gotze and the Bayern man hit the post on 57 minutes.
At the other end, Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had his hands full keeping Lewandowski and his forward partner Arkadiusz Milik quiet.
The pair have scored 12 of their side’s 21 goals in their qualifying campaign.
Germany settled the matter when Mueller’s fierce drive bounced off Fabianski’s legs and Gotze tucked away the rebound.