Germany grinds out 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Liechtenstein

Germany's new coach Hansi Flick got his reign off to a winning start as Timo Werner and Leroy Sane scored in a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in their World Cup Group J qualifier on Thursday.

Germany's head coach Hansi Flick looks on during the World Cup 2022 qualifying Group J football match between Liechtenstein and Germany.   -  AP

Germany's new coach Hansi Flick got his reign off to a winning start as Timo Werner and Leroy Sane scored in a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in their World Cup Group J qualifier on Thursday, but once again the Germans struggled in front of goal.

Former assistant Flick took over following Germany's Euro 2020 exit after a 2-0 last 16 defeat by England and the departure of manager Joachim Loew, but the inconsistency that has been his side's hallmark of late remained.

After they suffered a shock loss to North Macedonia in March, the Germans are second in the group on nine points after four games, one behind leaders Armenia. Liechtenstein is bottom with no points and one goal scored with 12 against them.

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Germany's Robin Gosens hit the post with a header in the 19th minute, but it took until the 41st before Werner finally got the first goal of the Flick era, latching on to a superb pass from Jamal Musiala before slotting home with his right foot.

Liechtenstein showed no inclination to chase an equaliser but continued to frustrate the Germans, massing their players behind the ball and making the occasional foray forward.

Aron Sele almost did the unthinkable for Liechtenstein, but his long-range attempted lob in the first half had too much power and sailed over the bar.

After the break, the Germans huffed and puffed but lacked the guile to open up Liechtenstein, who had chosen to play their home tie at St Gallen in Switzerland, a 40-minute drive across the border from their regular home ground in Vaduz.

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Having skipped Euro 2020 to rest after a long season with Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus ended his brief international exile by coming off the bench on the hour and provided some of the incisive passes his side had been missing.

Sane put the game out of reach in the 77th minute as he was finally rewarded for his industry, dancing to his left in the box before rattling home a low shot, but the Germans will be unhappy that their dominance did not lead to more goals.

Liechtenstein striker Daniel Kaufmann almost embarrassed the Germans with a late effort, but their blushes were spared when his header flashed across the face of the goal before going wide.

 - Lewandowski's Poland cruises past Armenia -

Robert Lewandowski led Poland to an emphatic 4-1 win over Albania on Thursday as Paulo Sousa's side climbed to second in World Cup qualifying Group I.

Talismanic captain Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a close-range header, but Albania equalised 13 minutes later when a long pass from Klaus Gjasula found striker Sokol Cikalleshi and he put the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

Poland regained the lead against the run of play just before halftime through a header from New England Revolution forward Adam Buksa, who scored on his debut.

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Nine minutes into the second half, Grzegorz Krychowiak tapped in a pass from Lewandowski, after the Bayern Munich striker had dribbled past three Albania players.

Just before the final whistle, Karol Linetty fired the ball in off the crossbar to secure a convincing win for Poland.

The victory, only the second one under Sousa since he took charge in January, sent Poland up to second place in Group I after four games alongside Hungary on seven points, five behind leader England.

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