Germany eased to a comfortable 7-0 success over Gibraltar in their Euro 2016 Group D qualifier, Andre Schurrle netting a hat-trick for the world champions.
Having seen group leaders Poland dispatch Georgia 4-0 earlier on Saturday – thanks to a Robert Lewandowski treble – Joachim Low’s side knew an expected victory at Estadio Algarve would see them climb back to within a point of their neighbours in the standings.
The opening 25 minutes did not go entirely to plan, Bastian Schweinsteiger seeing a penalty saved by Jordan Perez, while minnows Gibraltar created openings of their own.
It was Schurrle who finally broke the deadlock shortly before the half-hour mark, and only some inspired goalkeeping from Perez kept it that way until the interval.
But after the break, Germany’s superior class and fitness told, with four goals coming in a 20-minute spell.
Max Kruse – on as a replacement for the injured Mario Gotze – Ilkay Gundogan and Karim Bellarabi added further strikes, before Schurrle completed his treble and Kruse doubled his tally in another comprehensive defeat for Gibraltar.
Germany should have been ahead in the 10th minute but, after Jake Gosling had felled Jonas Hector, Schweinsteiger’s weak penalty was kept out by Perez.
The visitors dominated possession, but Gibraltar were not without chances of their own.
Having seen Liam Walker thump a long-range effort narrowly wide before the missed spot-kick, Adam Priestley and Aaron Payas both brought saves out of Roman Weidenfeller.
Gibraltar held out until the 28th minute before conceding – longer than in any of their other qualifying matches – Schurrle capitalising on a poor touch from Ryan Casciaro to slot beyond Perez with a calm finish.
Undeterred, the hosts should have had an immediate equaliser when Gosling fired straight at Weidenfeller from six yards.
Germany seemed stunned into action by that scare, and Perez had to deny Mesut Ozil with his legs before twice clawing away efforts from Patrick Herrmann at close quarters.
At the start of the second half, Kruse blazed a shot over but he soon made amends by tapping in Ozil’s cushioned ball across the six-yard box.
It was 3-0 soon afterwards, Gundogan controlling a pass from Kruse before prodding the ball home.
After Weidenfeller had denied Lee Casciaro, the visitors pulled further clear in the 57th minute, as Ozil teed up Bellarabi to sweep home his first international goal – Low choosing to file his nails on the bench rather than celebrate the strike.
With 25 minutes to go, Perez’s save from Gundogan fell kindly for Schurrle to tap home, and the Wolfsburg man completed his second international treble courtesy of a delicate pass from Ozil.
The final goal went the way of Kruse, who thumped home a volley from the edge of the area as the world champions put the seal on an emphatic victory.