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NUREMBERG (Reuters) - Germany, again playing without a recognised striker, hit three goals in eight minutes on the way to a 4-1 rout of Kazakhstan on Tuesday that kept them in complete control of World Cup qualifying Group C.
Borussia Dortmund trio Marco Reus, Mario Goetze and Ilkay Guendogan scored in the first half and Reus added a fourth goal in stoppage time as group leaders Germany won for the fifth time in six qualifiers.
The Germans, who also hit the woodwork six times in a one-sided encounter that at times looked more like a friendly, played without a recognised striker just as they did in Friday's 3-0 victory in Kazakhstan.
The home team produced lightning-quick passing to open up the Kazakh defence time and time again but took their foot off the gas in the second half, with keeper Manuel Neuer giving away a goal soon after the restart.
"Obviously in the second half our concentration and our presence was not as strong but we still could have scored two or three more goals. But the game was decided by then," Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters.
"Kazakhstan were with 10 men around the box and waited for us but did little else. They did not want to play football," said Loew.
The Germans lead the group on 16 points from six matches with Austria, Sweden and Ireland on eight. Austria and Ireland have one game in hand and Sweden have two.
Despite being without Bastian Schweinsteiger and strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, Germany put their opponents on the back foot from the start on a bitterly cold evening.
With former captain Michael Ballack watching from the stands for the first time since ending a long row with Loew, the hosts looked sharp with midfielder Goetze again deployed as a forward.
"Goetze scored two goals in these two games and had good combinations," said Loew. "I did not say 'let's get rid of strikers' but when spaces are tight, with 10 men at the back, then it's good to have players like him."
Guendogan, taking over the playmaker role from the suspended Schweinsteiger, struck the post with a superb volley in the 20th minute.
It was only a matter of time before a goal came and it was Reus who found the target after a good solo run and an unstoppable 18-metre drive.
Goetze, who also rattled the woodwork, made it 2-0 in the 27th minute when he latched on to a Philipp Lahm cut-back.
Guendogan made amends for his earlier miss, tapping in a well-timed Mesut Ozil pass in the 31st minute.
The visitors needed a Germany mistake to pull one back after the restart with Bundesliga-based Heinrich Schmidtgal drilling the ball in after keeper Manuel Neuer spectacularly miscued on the edge of the box.
The Germans continued to carve out chance after chance but outstanding keeper Andrei Sidelnikov kept them out until Reus completed the scoring late on after he was sent through by Guendogan.
"The first half was not how we had imagined it but we fought back in the second," Schmidtgal said. "We also had a bit of luck because I don't know how many times they hit the posts."
Kazakhstan, who also hit the post late in the game, have one point from six matches.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)