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FOOTBALL

Two goals by Klose keep Germany headed for World Cup

Veteran striker Miroslav Klose kept Germany on course for a place at next year's World Cup with two second-half goals to seal a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan in Hannover on Wednesday.

Two goals by Klose keep Germany headed for World Cup
Photo: DPA

The 31-year-old Bayern Munich star has now scored 47 goals for his country to put him joint third amongst Germany’s goal-scorers and level with legends Jürgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler.

But he still has some ground to cover to break Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals to be crowned Germany’s goal king.

“We still have a good team to face in Russia next month,” said Klose ahead of Germany’s penultimate World Cup qualifier in Moscow on October 10. “Football is a team sport, it is not about individuals. But the coach of the national team now knows that I am nearly at 100 percent.”

After the national team’s rising stars Mario Gomez and Mesut Özil scored in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over South Africa, the old guard had their say here as captain Michael Ballack, Klose and Lukas Podolski scored for the hosts.

With Russia winning 3-1 against Wales in Cardiff, Germany lead Group Four by a point from their Russian rivals, but this was not a commanding performance against the side bottom of the group.

“We have done what we set out to do, now it will go down to the wire,” said Chelsea star Ballack. “The game in Russia will be the most difficult of the whole qualification campaign. We began well, but after the goal we inexplicably lost our way. We were chasing the game which was quite poor and unusual for us, but we did ok in the second-half.”

Germany coach Joachim Löw lost centre-back Arne Friedrich before kick-off when the Hertha Berlin captain pulled a muscle and his place in defence went to Schalke 04’s Heiko Westermann.

Goalkeeper Robert Enke had already been forced out by a mysterious illness at the start of the week so Bayer Leverkusen’s Rene Adler, who kept another cleansheet after Saturday’s South African win, stayed between the posts.

Having employed a 4-3-3 system to great effect last Saturday, Löw opted for the same formation with Podolski and Özil on the flanks with Gomez as the single striker.

The best chance of the opening stages fell to Werder Bremen’s Özil when the 20-year-old broke through but fired his shot at goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev.

Then on nine minutes, Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger cut in from the wing and attempted a long-range shot that flew over the bar.

It was only a matter of time before Germany got the first goal and it came soon after when Bayern’s Gomez threaded a pass through the defence for Cologne’s Podolski.

He was brought down by the Azerbaijan defence and Ballack slotted home the spot kick on 13 minutes.

But the home side lost their way with 30 minutes played as Özil, then Ballack gave away posession needlessly with the guests posing no danger.

In the lull, Azerbaijan took advantage when Mahir Shukurov drilled in a shot which demanded a strong save from Adler on 37 minutes, it was more than the home crowd could stomach and the Germans walked off to loud boos at half-time.

Löw made a change immediately after the break with Klose – the top scorer at the 2006 World Cup – replacing Gomez as the lone striker.

The move paid off as Klose hit his 46th goal for Germany on 55 minutes after Azerbaijan had their captain Samir Abbasov sent off five minutes before for a second yellow card offence.

Klose scored his second on 66 minutes before Podolski slotted home his shot on 71 minutes as Germany re-exerted their authority. Klose netted again in the 73rd minute, but his effort was ruled offside and his hat-trick was denied.

But Germany will need to raise their game over the full 90 minutes to be sure of victory in Moscow.

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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