FOR the first time during this European Championship campaign Germany assumed pole position in Group D after exacting revenge on Poland in Frankfurt.
A double by Mario Götze and a clinical strike by Thomas Müller earned Joachim Löw’s men a priceless victory as they finally rediscovered the form which carried them to World Cup glory during a pulsating qualifying match.
The win did leave the qualification door slightly ajar for Scotland, although Gordon Strachan’s side have it all do to end their major tournament exile, with the Germans visiting Glasgow on Monday.
Germany headed into last night’s vital encounter trailing their neighbours, but ended it two points clear at the summit of Group D.
Poland were hoping to pull off a historic double after beating their old foes for the first time last October and, while Robert Lewandowski’s goal just before the interval gave them hope, the superior class of the home side eventually told.
Buoyed by their win in Warsaw 11 months ago, there was no shortage of confidence in the Polish camp during the build-up to the vital qualifying clash.
A post-World Cup winning hangover among the Germans had given encouragement to Adam Nawalka’s side as they went in search of the win which would have virtually guaranteed their participation in France next summer.
But roared on by a capacity 48,500 crowd in the Commerzbank Arena, the hugely impressive home of Eintracht Frankfurt, and stirred by a rousing rendition of Deutschland Über Alles it was the Germans who were quick to put their stamp on proceedings.
Having lost just one home European qualifier in the past 24 years – against the Czech Republic in 2007 – Löw’s men were not exactly lacking in self-belief either.
Three times in the opening ten minutes they carved open the visitors defence with the danger stemming every time from the inventiveness of Götze and Karim Bellarabi on the left-hand flank.
Unfortunately for Poland, they failed to heed the warnings and they were duly punished in the 12th minute when Thomas Müller turned home from close range after terrific build-up play by Jonas Hector.
Seven minutes later their advantage was doubled as Götze cut in from the angle of the 18-yard-box and rifled a precise low shot into the bottom corner past the outstretched arm of Lukasz Fabianski.
Against the run of play Lewandowski pulled one back for the visitors in the 38th minute when he launched himself onto the end of a terrific Kamil Grosicki pass.
Incredibly, despite the Germans’ total dominance, Poland could, and arguably should, have been level at the interval.
First Manuel Neuer made up for a misplaced pass when producing a world-class stop to divert a Lewandowski thunderbolt over the crossbar and then Götze cleared a header off the goalline from his Bayern Munich team-mate.
The outcome of a terrific match was decided seven minutes from the end when man of the match, Götze, pounced to slot home after Fabianski could only parry a Müller shot.