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Holtby sets Germany on course for Cyprus win

Germany 4-1 Cyprus
FC Schalke 04's Lewis Holtby struck twice as the 2009 champions kicked off qualifying Group 1 with a nervy victory in Karlsruhe.

Germany striker Lewis Holtby (No10) celebrates after breaking the deadlock
Germany striker Lewis Holtby (No10) celebrates after breaking the deadlock ©Getty Images

Lewis Holtby struck twice to set Germany on course for a 4-1 victory over Cyprus in Karlsruhe as the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship winners kicked off their qualifying campaign in style.

Holtby was irresistible for much of the first half, putting the home side 2-0 up before a lax Lasse Sobiech pass allowed Nestor Mytidis a surprise reply. An equaliser looked even less likely for a Cyprus side that opened their Group 1 account with a 6-0 win against San Marino in March, especially when Daniel Didavi restored the two-goal lead midway through the second period. Julian Draxler's 75th-minute strike sealed victory.

It was Draxler who set Rainer Adrion's side on their way in Karlsruhe, releasing FC Schalke 04 team-mate Holtby to break the deadlock on nine minutes. It was a sign of things to come as Holtby, Didavi, Draxler and the pacy Alexander Esswein harried the visitors, and with half-time approaching the pressure told. Didavi hit the post, and though Cyprus blocked three shots in the ensuing melee the ball was eventually squared for Holtby to tap in.

It was all going so well. Then came Sobiech's aberration, pounced on by Mytidis, and nerves set in for a Germany side keen to make amends after failing to qualify for this summer's finals. Half-time brought relief, and with the restart came renewed German dominance. Didavi calmed nerves with a simple finish when Cyprus failed to clear their lines and though another defensive lapse almost let in Mytidis again, Draxler sealed the points after good work from Peniel Mlapa.