Germany blanks Belgium in friendly


NUREMBERG, Germany — European Championship runner-up Germany scored twice in the second half to beat Belgium 2-0 in a friendly Wednesday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger converted a penalty in the 59th after Daniel van Buyten had pulled down Mario Gomez and substitute Marko Marin added the second in the 77th.

Both teams used the match to prepare for next month’s start of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Germany played without several injured starters, including captain Michael Ballack and another midfielder, Torsten Frings.

"So early in the season, with a fairly new lineup, we played quite well," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "We tried to play at high pace, we passed well, the second goal was well created."

Lukas Podolski, who played in midfield at the European Championship, returned to his usual place in the attack alongside Miroslav Klose. Podolski was the target of a martial arts-style attack from Belgium goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen, who rushed off his line outside the penalty area and instead of clearing the ball slammed foot-first into the German forward.

Podolski was left with a bleeding wound and kept clutching his right side until the end of the first half. He did not return and neither did the out-of-form Klose. They were replaced by Gomez and Kevin Kuranyi.

In its first match since losing the Euro 2008 final 1-0 to Spain in June, Germany had most of the possession while Belgium relied on counterattacks.

Klose’s only chance came after 15 minutes but Stijnen got his fingertips onto the shot and flipped it over the crossbar.

Belgium’s best chance came after Axel Witsel’s pass but Tom de Sutter’s nibble flick went close outside the post.

Bastian Schweinsteiger then drove a volley high from close range, but Germany could not score in the first half despite long periods of dominance and there were scattered jeers as the teams left for the break.

Little changed in the second half. Stijnen tipped away a long-range shot form Philipp Lahm in the 53rd, before van Buyten gave away the penalty. Schweinsteiger took the shot and sent Stijnen the wrong way.

Marin, who was cut shortly before the Euros and was making his second appearance for Germany, scored the second goal after a neat 1-2 play with Lahm that befuddled the Belgian defence. Marin faked van Buyten before curling his shot inside the post.

"I am glad to be back and I hope I’ll return for the next game," Marin said.

Belgium coach Rene Vandereycken said he was pleased with his young team’s performance.

"But on the second goal we did not defend well. It was a nice goal but with five defenders against two men, we should not concede such a goal," he said.

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