FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s World Cup hero Mario Goetze again put his club woes behind him to score twice as the world champions beat Poland 3-1 in an entertaining Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday to take over at the top of Group D and avenge last year’s defeat.
Goetze, who has been struggling for first team action at champions Bayern Munich over the past two seasons under coach Pep Guardiola, scored with a fine solo effort in the 19th minute after Thomas Mueller had put the hosts in front.
A third Bayern player, Poland captain Robert Lewandowski, cut the deficit with a diving header from Kamil Grosicki’s superb left-wing cross with the outside of his right foot.
Goetze, who scored the winner against Argentina in the World Cup final last year, sealed Germany’s win eight minutes from time on the rebound after keeper Lukasz Fabianski had saved a shot from Mueller.
Both teams had plenty more chances in a flowing, attacking game but Germany, who had lost 2-0 in Warsaw last October, proved more efficient and took over at the top of Group D on 16 points from seven games, two ahead of Poland. Ireland are third on 14 after beating Gibraltar 4-0.
”The expectation was to win it. That was the most important thing,“ Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters. ”Overall the first 35 minutes we played very well. We made some mistakes and I would have liked to see less.
“Mario was superb tonight. He was moving a lot, going deep or pulling back and how he scored those two goals was just classy.”
Germany next play Scotland, who lost 1-0 in Georgia earlier on Friday, in Glasgow on Monday.
With Liverpool’s Emre Can making his debut as right back, the hosts set a high tempo from the start, quickly carving out a brace of chances with Karim Bellarabi.
Mueller then made no mistake when a fine combination between Jonas Hector and Bellarabi found him in front of goal with an easy tap-in.
Goetze, doubled their lead when he picked the ball up on the edge of the area, shook off two markers and rifled a shot through the legs of a third player.
“I found out only yesterday that I would start and it is a great feeling, ” Goetze said. “To help the team with two goals is just fantastic.”
The Poles responded with a trademark goal, scoring on the break in the 37th minute, with Lewandowski taking his tally to eight in the qualifying campaign.
Lewandowski then had a golden chance to level on the stroke of halftime when he had only Manuel Neuer to beat but the keeper stood his ground to save.
Germany re-established control with Goetze rattling the post following a superb through ball from Ilkay Guendogan on the hour.
Late efforts by the Poles to equalise foundered against a disciplined Germany back line before Goetze struck again.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris/Mitch Phillips