André Schürrle 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 the coach, Joachim Löw, to Mesut Özil in the starting line-up, Schürrle hit his side’s first and last goals in the 19th and 81st minutes after Dima Nazarov had briefly brought the hosts back level.
Thomas Müller and Mario Gómez also scored at the end of the first half, all but securing Germany’s passage to the finals in Russia next year.
The Azeris started well and threatened to make it a difficult night for the visitors. But Germany took the lead when Schürrle squeezed through a static home defence to convert Jonas Hector’s left-wing cross.
Azerbaijan then hit back 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 Erzebirge Aue, slotted home.
But the world champions took only five minutes to regain the lead when a mistake by Ismayilov let in Schürrle to find Müller, who rounded the goalkeeper, Kamran Agayev, to score.
Löw’s team finally recovered some breathing space when they added their third goal on the stroke of half-time, Gómez planting a firm header past Ayayev from Joshua Kimmich’s right-wing cross.
Increasingly Löw’s side were resorting to cruise control and the fourth German goal arrived 10 minutes from time when Hector picked out Schürrle, who drove fiercely into the roof of the net.