Germany beats Israel 2-0 in final Euro tuneup

By Nesha Starcevic

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 31 2012 3:21 p.m. MDT

Germany's Andre Schuerrle, front right, celebrates his side's second goal during a friendly international soccer match between Germany and Israel in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, May 31, 2012. The German team prepares for the Euro 2012, where Germany will play in Group B with Denmark, Netherlands and Portugal.

Michael Sohn, Associated Press

LEIPZIG, Germany — Germany beat Israel 2-0 in its final tuneup for the European Championship on Thursday, showing only flashes of the flair that have made it a favorite for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Mario Gomez and substitute Andre Schuerrle scored in each half of a match that Germany dominated but missed a host of chances.

The win snapped a two-match losing streak this year. Germany lost 2-1 to France in February and 5-3 in Switzerland on Saturday. The return of seven Bayern Munich players gave Germany more stability, but Joachim Loew's team was hardly tested by Israel. Germany often lacked precision in its passing and was slow in building up its attacks.

Germany begins its Euro campaign against Portugal on June 9 and also plays the Netherlands and Denmark in its tough group.

"I am not unduly worried but I am not relaxed either. We have a lot of work next week," Loew said.

"We still need to improve, that's clear. We need to be more aggressive. Clearly, the game against Portugal will be played at a different pace," Loew said.

Important Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger sat out the match with a calf injury.

Gomez finally put Germany ahead in the 40th minute to finish one of the better German moves of the first half. Sami Khedira began the move, and Thomas Mueller found Gomez, who drove the ball off the underside of the crossbar into the net.

Schuerrle completed the scoring in the 83rd with a tremendous shot from 18 meters.

"We played against a defensive, well organized team. Our combinations were more fluid in the second half and we created more chances. They did not challenge us much in the defense but it's good to end the preparations with a win," Loew said.

Jerome Boateng struck the post in the 19th as Germany built up pressure, without creating many chances on a damp night at Red Bull Arena before 43,000 fans.

Gomez connected with a cross from Lukas Podolski but shot wide and the best effort before the goal came as Mueller crossed for Khedira, but the midfielder's header at the near post went wide.

It took Israel 55 minutes to really threaten Germany's goal and Manuel Neuer did well to tip over a shot by substitute Gil Vermouth from the edge of the area.

Germany replied with Mesut Oezil shooting wide from 14 meters and Israel goalkeeper Ariel Harush did well to deny the midfielder again when he raced off his line, before Podolski fired high from close range.

Harush blocked Podolski's effort in the 63rd after some fancy passing by the Germans.

Then Mueller missed an empty net in the 76th.

Israel coach Eli Gutman said he told his players to play fairly, "because Germany is going to the Euros and I promised the coach that there will be no injuries."

"I was sure that Germany would control the game, we wanted to play good zone defense, try to win the ball and counterattack.".

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