8.10.2017Bayer 04

Germany win 5-1 with Brandt and Leno

With Julian Brandt and Bernd Leno in the starting line-up, Germany beat Azerbaijan 5-1 in the final World Cup qualifier. Ten wins in ten games with a goal difference of 43 to 4 – no other team has achieved a better World Cup qualifying round in the history of the tournament. Admir Mehmedi and Panos Retsos face crucial matches on Tuesday.

Joachim Löw announced the day before the match that Bernd Leno was his choice in goal, and that meant the 25-year-old Werkself keeper earned his sixth international cap in Kaiserslautern. Julian Brandt was also a starter against Azerbaijan for his twelfth full international appearance for Germany. A cross from Brandt led to a corner on nine minutes, which was skilfully converted with a backheel by Schalke's Leon Goretzka to give Germany an early lead. Shortly after Sandro Wagner hit the post, the visitors from Azerbaijan sprang a surprise  with Ramil Sheydaev levelling the scores on 34 minutes with a shot to the near post that beat Leno.

Germany upped their game significantly after the restart – with Brandt making a solid contribution. The 21-year-old went very close twice in succession on 47 minutes before providing a pinpoint cross for Wagner to put Germany back in front with a header on 54 minutes. That broke the visitors' resistance with Antonio Rüdiger (64'), Goretzka (66') and Emre Can (80') scoring to make it 5-1.

Swiss showdown in Lisbon

Like Germany, Switzerland also have a perfect record in Group B. The Swiss team clocked up a comfortable 5-2 victory over Hungary at St. Jakob Park in Basel on Saturday for the ninth win in nine games – but they are not certain of qualifying for the World Cup finals. Their last group match on Tuesday (20.45 CET) in Lisbon  against Portugal will decide their fate. A draw would be enough for Switzerland to secure a place in Russia next summer as they are three points ahead of the European Champions at the moment. Admir Mehmedi did not play against Hungary but is certainly an option for Vladimir Petkovic's team in the nail-biting finale in the race for top spot.

Advantage Greece

The Greek team had an outstanding evening in Group H. The side coached by Michael Skibbe, with Panos Retsos coming off the bench on 69 minutes to earn his second full international cap, came from behind to beat Cyprus 2-1 in Nicosia and they also profited from the previous second-placed team Bosnia losing 4-3 against leaders Belgium. Greece now have a two-point lead in second place in the race for a play-off slot and look certain to progress with the final home game on Tuesday against the as yet pointless Gibraltar.

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