Germany tops group with 6-1 rout against Azerbaijan

Germany coach Joachim Löw said he was pleased to see his side reproduce some of its dazzling World Cup form in the 6-1 rout of Azerbaijan in Tuesday night's Euro 2012 qualifier.

Germany tops group with 6-1 rout against Azerbaijan
Photo: DPA

Having struggled to beat Belgium 1-0 in Brussels last Friday, Germany reproduced some of its form in Cologne from its strong campaign in South Africa which saw it finish third.

Striker Miroslav Klose took his tally to 55 international goals with a double on his 103rd appearance while Cologne forward Lukas Podolski answered his critics with a well-timed goal and then set up Klose in a slick display.

Germany will finish at the top of Group A, but Turkey also has a 100 percent win record after two games, having beaten Belgium 3-2 earlier in Istanbul. Germany faces Turkey in Berlin on October 8.

“The team produced some more top football and some of the combinations worked very well,” beamed Löw, who will coach Germany through to the Euro 2012 finals in the Ukraine and Poland.

“It was fun to see that. We have been working on things since even before the World Cup. You can sense that things are becoming automatic now.

“It was noted that (Lukas) Podolski was willing to put in a lot of leg work. He shows his strength in the national side and his goal ratio (41 goals in 81 games) speaks for itself.”

Interestingly, Löw said he had not seen Germany captain Michael Ballack in the Cologne stadium, as he recovers from the ankle injury which kept him out of the World Cup.

“I let him decide, everyone needs to decide for himself,” said Löw.

In Ballack’s absence, Philipp Lahm skippered the side and was pleased with the six goals, despite the second-half consolation goal by Azerbaijan striker Vagif Dzavadov.

“Six goals scored – so we can be satisfied,” said Lahm. “This team likes to play football for fun and score goals. In spite of conceding a goal, we can all be satisfied.”

Azerbaijan coach Berti Vogts said the result was acceptable, but he lamented the two late goals from centre-back Holger Badstuber and Klose as the guests’ defence capitulated.

“The result is fair. We were too passive. We conceded silly goals in injury time,” said Vogts, who is a former German national coach and guided them to the Euro 96 title.

“Germany plays in another league to us, they are a different class.”

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.