Podolski shines as Germany beat Ecuador 4-2
Berlin: An unfamiliar Germany team recorded a comfortable 4-2 win over Ecuador to get their tour of the USA under way in Florida on Thursday.
The Nationalelf roared into a convincing four-goal lead in the first half, with Lukas Podolski and Lars Bender exchanging doubles before Antonio Valencia pulled one back just before the break.
The South Americans pushed for a route back into the match and eventually got their goal through Walter Ayovi`s free kick with less than 10 minutes to play.
The game had barely started when Germany took the lead. Some slack defending from Gabriel Achilier gave Podolski the chance to pounce and the Arsenal striker drilled home the opener after just nine seconds.
Ecuador had started slowly and before they had a chance to settle themselves, Joachim Low`s side had doubled their advantage. Sidney Sam, making his international debut, slipped a ball into the path of Bender, who side-footed a second past Maximo Banguera.
It was fast becoming one of Germany`s most impressive friendly performances in recent memory and barring a Per Mertesacker slip under pressure from Jefferson Montero, the South Americans had no answer to their European counterparts.
And, sure enough, it was soon three. Max Kruse cut the ball back into the path of Podolski, who duly slammed home his second of the match.
It was all too easy for Germany and just before the 25-minute mark, they had a four-goal advantage, with a prolonged period of possession resulting in Roman Neustadter squaring the ball to Bender, who drilled home his second from distance.
With the match effectively won during its opening quarter, Germany took their foot off the gas and Ecuador soon were able to showcase the form which has seen them rise to 10th in the Fifa rankings.
Jefferson Montero ran at the backtracking Benedikt Howedes and unleashed a brilliant effort from the edge of the box which cannoned off the crossbar, with Rene Adler well beaten.
Felipe Caicedo then twisted and turned in the box, leaving Heiko Westermann for dead, but failed to get the necessary power behind his eventual shot, allowing the Hamburg keeper to make an easy save.
Valencia then stung Adler`s palms with a ferocious effort from distance as half-time approached but went one better seconds later, driving an effort into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Seconds after the restart, the Manchester United winger tested Adler once more with a powerful effort from a narrow angle. Germany had totally switched off and their opponents were looking dangerous.
The former Leverkusen keeper was forced into a number of saves, denying Montero twice and Segundo Castillo, whose long-range effort seemed to be flying in, before Westermann made an incredible block to stop Elvis Bone`s goal-bound strike.
Germany, meanwhile, were becoming increasingly frustrated with Ecuador`s rough tackling. Julian Draxler had a penalty denied after a robust tackle from Achilier, while tempers flared when Podolski was scythed down by Bone.
Eventually, the South Americans got the goal their second-half efforts deserved, with Adler palming Ayovi`s free kick into the side of the net late on but Germany were able to hang on for the win.