2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Dimitrij Nazarov (31')
  • André Schürrle (19', 81')
  • Thomas Müller (36')
  • Mario Gómez (45')

Andre Schurrle scores two as Germany cruise past Azerbaijan

Andre Schurrle scored twice as Germany extended their perfect start in World Cup qualifying Group C to five games with a 4-1 win over Azerbaijan in Baku.

Preferred by coach Joachim Low to Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in the starting lineup, Schurrle hit his side's first and last goals in the 19th and 81st minutes after Dima Nazarov had briefly dragged the hosts back level.

Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez also scored at the end of the first half to virtually secure the Germans' passage back to the finals in Russia next year.

The Azeris, starting the game in joint second place in the group despite a 4-0 thumping in Northern Ireland last time out, started well and threatened to make it a difficult night for the visitors.

But Germany made the breakthrough when Schurrle squeezed through a static home defence to convert a left-wing cross from Jonas Hector.

Benedikt Howedes and Muller both went close before Azerbaijan sent the home fans wild on the half-hour with a superb equaliser.

Afran Ismayilov fired a fine ball across the edge of the box and Nazarov, who plays for Bundesliga 2 side Erzgebirge Aue, slotted home.

The Germans took just five minutes to recover from their upset when a mistake by Ismayilov let in Schurrle to find Muller who rounded goalkeeper Kamran Agayev to restore the visitors' lead.

But despite another chance for Schurrle, Germany were lacking the required spark and another half-chance for Ismayilov reminded them of the danger posed by the hosts.

Low's men finally recovered some breathing space when they snatched their third goal on the stroke of half-time, Gomez planting a firm header past Agayev from Joshua Kimmich's right-wing cross.

Azerbaijan continued to fight to get back into the game early in the second half, with Nazarov coming close to grabbing his second when he brought a save out of Germany keeper Bernd Leno.

Schurrle and Muller responded with chances before Germany almost grabbed a fourth on the hour mark, a neat ball from Mats Hummels just failing to find the lurking Muller.

Increasingly Low's men were resorting to cruise control with goalscorer Gomez withdrawn just past the hour to give Ozil an opportunity to impress.

And the fourth German goal arrived 10 minutes from time when Hector picked out Schurrle who turned inside the Azeri defenders before smashing the ball into the roof of the net.