Berlin: A dazzling first half gave way to an erratic second-half performance as Germany again battled with lapses of concentration in their 4-1 win over Kazakhstan in their World Cup qualifier. The three-times European and World champions lead Group C by eight points after Tuesday's victory, their fifth in six games.
Yet coach Joachim Loew will be carefully analysing their second-half game where they gifted a goal to Kazakhstan, allowed the lowly hosts to hit the post before adding a fourth goal in the last minute. After all, memories are still fresh of a second-half collapse after they were leading 4-0 against Sweden last year before they conceded four times for a 4-4 draw in a spectacular and rare German implosion.
Had the hosts let in a second goal to the 139th-ranked Kazakhs after leading 3-0 following a superb start it would have been embarrassing, with fans already whistling following keeper Manuel Neuer's blunder that led to the visitors' goal. "I did not get any Swedish feeling," Loew told reporters when asked whether he feared Germany could let the Kazakhs back into the game in the second half. "Kazakhstan could not offer offensively what Sweden could bring."
The Germans scored three times in eight minutes midway through the first half during a frantic offensive spell to kill off the encounter but Neuer miscued right after the restart allowing the visitors to pull a goal back. "The mistake happened and he was responsible," Loew said. "But I do not like that our fans whistled. He is a long-time national team keeper and has played outstandingly in the past years.
"I think it is unsportsmanlike to accompany him for the rest of the game with whistles and sarcasm." The Germans missed a dozen clear chances and hit the woodwork six times with Loew admitting his team was not fully focused throughout. "Maybe it was a case of players thinking ahead to the Bundesliga and the Champions League. The game had already been decided," he said.
With Germany eager to challenge for the World Cup next year and in control of the group featuring Austria, Sweden and Ireland, the players saw no reason for alarm. "I don't think it was that bad," captain Philipp Lahm said. "It could have ended 6-1 or 7-1. We may have lacked a percentage here and there to score more goals and be a bit more concentrated at times. "But we got the early lead, we killed off the game in the first half and that is what is important."