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Trochowski secures German win over Wales

Winger Piotr Trochowski unleashed a superb second-half strike to seal a 1-0 win over Wales on Wednesday night and put Germany four points clear in their World Cup qualifying group.

Trochowski secures German win over Wales
Photo: DPA

Joachim Löw’s side took a sizeable step towards claiming the single guaranteed place at South Africa 2010 from Group Four with three more points against a spirited Welsh side in their final qualifier of the year.

“We are really pleased to have finished the year with six points from the win over Russia (last Saturday) and Wales, it puts us in a good position for next year,” said Löw.

Their third win from four qualifying games means Germany are now on ten points in their group. Russia – who beat Finland 3-0 in Moscow on Wednesday – and plucky Wales are lagging behind on six each, but Germany wasted a string of chances to secure the win early on.

“We failed to score an early goal and made life a bit hard for ourselves,” said captain Michael Ballack after the win over Wales. “In the first-half, we lacked the concentration and a bit of finishing, but things were better in the second-half.”

The result was a bitter pillow to swallow for John Toshack’s team who defended passionately, but the Germany attack finally unpicked the lock on the Welsh goal when Trochowski rifled his shot home on 72 minutes.

“We should have scored more goals – we certainly created the chances, but the main thing was to get the three points,” said Trochowski. “It’s been a while since I shot so many times on goal, the ball had to go in at sometime. I am over the moon we won the game.”

Löw said before the game he expected Wales to bring a robust defence to Mönchengladbach and that is exactly what Toshack’s side provided. Despite Germany enjoying the vast majority of possession, Wales set out their stall early with a five-man defence which provided the potent home side’s attack with few clear opportunities early on.

Bayern midfield Bastian Schweinsteiger had the best chance of the first-half when his shot beat Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, but clipped the crossbar just after half an hour.

And Chelsea star and Germany captain Michael Ballack, who showed no signs of the damaged calf he suffered last Saturday in the 2-1 win over Russia, had an opportunity shortly after when his low-shot was also stopped.

West Ham striker Craig Bellamy had the best chance for the visitors, when on a rare Welsh forage into German territory, the Wales captain swung in a shot, but Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler covered the danger.

There was a surprise at half-time as 87-times capped striker Miroslav Klose, top scorer at the last World Cup, was substituted for Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrick Helmes to make just his ninth appearance.

The Welsh had the brightest chance early in the half when Wolverhampton Wanderer’s David Edwards flicked a ball into Bellamy’s path who went one-to-one with Adler, but the goalkeeper stood tall and blocked the chance.

As the rain poured down, Trochowski wasted a golden chance when Schweinsteiger’s pass found him unmarked in the penalty area, but the Hamburg winger failed to get a clear strike on the ball.

Podolski stabbed the ball goal-bound, but burly West Ham defender James Collins marshalled the ball over the line and the ball was cleared from the corner.

Referee Laurent Duhamel missed a clear mistake in the Welsh defence when Collins backpassed to Hennessey, who picked up the ball, but the Frenchman waved on play rather than award a free-kick.

It failed to matter however as Trochowski slipped his marker Edwards and pulled the ball back onto his powerful right-foot before he curled his shot around Hennessey on 72 minutes.

Germany had more chances in the game’s final phase but Hennessey fended off a number of chances by Podolski and Helmes.

RUSSIA

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.

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The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.

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