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Neuer knows 'lucky' Germany must improve

Manuel Neuer conceded Germany "were lucky to have won in the end" after they ground out a victory against neighbours Austria which put them within touching distance of qualification.

Manuel Neuer knows Germany were fortunate to come out on top against Austria
Manuel Neuer knows Germany were fortunate to come out on top against Austria ©Getty Images

It may not have been a vintage Germany performance in Vienna but the 2-1 win, courtesy of Mario Gomez's double, has put Joachim Löw's side on the brink of qualification from Group A after an absorbing encounter at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.

Certainly Germany No1 Manuel Neuer, for one, conceded he was fortunate to be on the winning side against neighbours Austria. "It wasn't an easy game, Austria played very well and we were lucky to win in the end."

Midfielder Toni Kroos, whose 44th-minute corner led to Gomez's opening goal, told UEFA.com: "We didn't have our normal playing rhythm. We didn't switch very well from defence to attack. Austria were very confident, particularly after their goal and they had some very good counterattacks."

Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer felt that Austria's lowly position in the standings meant there may have been an air of the 'last chance saloon' for the hosts, whose zest and vigour had Germany on the back foot on numerous occasions. "They played well and created chances, but didn't take them," he said. "They played differently to their last games because it was their last chance of qualification and I think this showed on the pitch."

Germany now travel to Azerbaijan on Tuesday aiming to make it seven wins out of seven, but new FC Bayern München recruit Neuer knows they will have to improve. "We've played against Azerbaijan once already and it went pretty well," said the 25-year-old. "We have to let the ball do the work and if we make better use of the wings we'll find space."

Kroos also expressed the importance of the Mannschaft upping their game in Baku. "Against Azerbaijan we will have to be highly concentrated and play better than we did against Austria. If we do that then things are looking good for us in our group."

Austria captain Christian Fuchs was understandably dejected. "It's very disappointing for all of us. A draw would have been fair, even a win." He added: "We played with a lot of confidence and in the future we have to show this confidence again. If we can then I'm sure a positive future is possible."

Striker Martin Harnik, a constant thorn in the German defence, expressed the need to push on from their performance and inspire the Austrian fans. "We can be very proud, but we can't be satisfied with that display. Everybody in the stadium saw us play an incredibly well and we want people to enjoy coming to the stadium again."