Miroslav Klose's 51st-minute goal was enough for Germany to begin their qualifying campaign for UEFA EURO 2012 with a Group A victory in Belgium.
Klose, 31, hinted this week that he may try to continue to play international football until the 2014 FIFA World Cup and scoring for the 2010 semi-finalists in Brussels underscored his intentions to trouble defences for some time to come. Indeed, he could have added a second when he shot wide late on. Belgium have now lost all seven of their matches against their neighbours since German reunification.
Klose's goal, his 53rd in 102 international appearances, came after Belgium centre-half Daniel Van Buyten lost the ball on the edge of the area to his FC Bayern München team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger. The conclusion to the move involved two more players from the Bavarian club as Klose slid the ball past Logan Bailly after collecting a clever pass from Thomas Müller.
Moments earlier Bailly, who plays in the Bundesliga for VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, had spilled a Schweinsteiger cross from the right and Klose was only denied a clear strike at goal from close range by solid defending from Vincent Kompany. Müller scored five times at the World Cup in South Africa to make him the joint top scorer in the tournament. The 20-year-old grew increasingly influential as the second half wore on and forced a fine stop from Bailly with 25 minutes to play.
Belgium had begun the match at express pace in Georges Leekens' first competitive game of his second spell in charge of the national side, crunching into challenges, while the fluidity of their play with a single striker and attacking midfielders interchanging positions at will suggested they had adopted elements of Germany's style.
Romelu Lukaku, Belgium's 17-year-old centre-forward, drew the first save from Manuel Neuer. The Germany goalkeeper made the stop of the half just before the break when he got down low to his right to save a powerful swerving effort from the lively Moussa Démbélé.
Germany began to click midway through the first period and midfielders Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira – both summer signings by Real Madrid CF – missed presentable opportunities after finding space on the perimeter of the box. Klose's strike sets Germany up for hosting Azerbaijan in Cologne on Tuesday, when Belgium travel to Istanbul to take on Turkey, 3-0 winners against Kazakhstan in Astana earlier on Friday evening.