FRANKFURT, Germany. September 4 (AP) – Mario Goetze scored twice to help Germany beat Poland 3:1 Friday in their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier and replace the visitors at the top of Group D.
The victory also saw the Germans avenge their first ever defeat to Poland last October.
“We knew it was an important game. We really wanted top spot,” Goetze said.
Thomas Mueller opened the scoring in the 12th minute, assisted by Cologne defender Jonas Hector, who also set up Goetze seven minutes later.
Poland captain Robert Lewandowski pulled one back with a thumping header to Kamil Grosicki’s brilliant cross, but Goetze sealed the win on the rebound in the 82nd after Lukasz Fabianski saved Mueller’s initial effort.
Germany moved two points clear of previously unbeaten Poland – 16 to 14.
Ireland took advantage of Scotland’s 1:0 loss in Georgia by beating Gibraltar 4:0 in Portugal to go third in the group, two points behind Poland.
Three rounds of games remain. The top two qualify automatically for UEFA EURO 2016 in France. The best third-placed team also qualifies, and the other eight teams can qualify through a playoff.
Despite seeing little of the ball, Poland struck back through Lewandowski.
Disorder in Germany’s midfield saw the ball swept out to the left wing for Grosicki, who controlled it with the outside of his boot and then crossed perfectly for Lewandowski to score in the 37th.
Lewandowski almost equalized before the break, only to be denied by a reflex save by Manuel Neuer – whose poor kick out led to the chance. Lewandowski’s header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by Goetze.
Goetze struck the post in the 57th following the introduction of Ilkay Gundogan, and the World Cup hero finally settled the game when he set up Mueller and followed up for the rebound.
“We’re relieved to have won,” Mueller said.
“All-in-all we’re happy to have won against the strongest opponents in the group.”
Germany – Poland 3:1 (2:1)
Goals: Müller 12′, Götze 19′, 82′ – Lewandowski 36′
Yellow carded: Kroos, Schweinsteiger – Rybus, Grosicki
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy) Attendance: 48 500
Germany: 1. Manuel Neuer – 14. Emre Can, 17. Jérôme Boateng, 5. Mats Hummels, 3. Jonas Hector – 13. Thomas Müller, 7. Bastian Schweinsteiger, 18. Toni Kroos, 8. Mesut Özil, 16. Karim Bellarabi (53, 21. İlkay Gündoğan) – 19. Mario Götze (90, 10. Lukas Podolski)
Poland: 22. Łukasz Fabiański – 20. Łukasz Piszczek (43, 14. Paweł Olkowski), 4. Łukasz Szukała, 15. Kamil Glik, 13. Maciej Rybus – 11. Kamil Grosicki (83, 17. Sławomir Peszko), 8. Grzegorz Krychowiak, 6. Tomasz Jodłowiec, 5. Krzysztof Mączyński (63, 16. Jakub Błaszczykowski), 7. Arkadiusz Milik – 9. Robert Lewandowski
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