Despite all their talk beforehand of shocking the Germans, the visitors only shocked themselves with an abject display at the Allianz Arena. Their plans to maintain the creative spark so evident in their last qualifier against Sweden suffered a blow beforehand with Zlatko Junuzovic’s failure to overcome an injury.
His replacement on the right flank, Andreas Ivanschitz, struggled badly and was substituted with 25 minutes left.
Once the Germans absorbed some early pressure, especially a third-minute header from Emanuel Pogatetz which sailed over, their class translated into a dominant first-half display.
Toni Kroos proved an able deputy for his Bayern Munich clubmate Mario Gotze in the engine-room by breaking up play and feeding his wingers Marco Reus and Thomas Muller.
Four minutes after Kroos had conjured the hosts’ first pot on goal in the sixth minute that cleared Rene Adler’s crossbar, Sami Khedira went even closer by beating the ’keeper with his curler only to see the effort veer a yard wide.
It wasn’t long before the visitors’ brittle defence was exposed. Miroslav Klose was gifted a clear run on goal from a sloppy Christian Fuchs back-pass, only to slice his shot into the side-netting.
Then, midway through the half, Arsenal’s €40 million recruit Mesut Ozil blazed over from 12 yards after Muller’s cross wasn’t cleared.
As the half hour approached, Adler came to Austria’s rescue by scampering back to punch a Klose header over from under his crossbar.
It was just a matter of time, however, for the one-way traffic to deliver a goal and it proved an historic one for Klose.
In the 33rd minute, Reus released Muller into space on the right behind the trailing Fuchs and the winger’s low cross was slid home from six yards by the 35-year-old.
Not until five minutes before the break did Austria muster their first attempt on goal, Manuel Neuer safely gathering a long-range pile-driver by his Bayern Munich colleague David Alaba. A dipping volley by centre-back Aleksander Dragovic just moments later worked the stopper into a fine one-handed save.
It proved merely a brief respite from the waves of German attacks as they resumed control after the break, doubling the lead in the 51st minute.
Reus was afforded plenty of room on the left to tee up Kroos, who unleashed a shot from 25 yards with the outside of the right-foot which nestled into the far corner.
That goal made it even more of a cakewalk for the Germans in the final half hour. Aside from Neuer blocking Martin Hamrik’s shot with his legs, Austria hardly got out of their own half for the remainder of the tie.
The more keep-ball Germany played with their neighbours, the more tired Austria became. To compound their woe, a third goal was deposited two minutes from full-time time from another trademark passing move.
Interval substitute Benedikt Howedes was the raiding full-back to benefit on this occasion when he soared to the end-line. His low cross was tapped home by Muller for his 15th international goal.
In the end, Marcel Koller’s team seemed glad to escape with just a three-goal defeat. Perhaps they’ll get more freedom to regain their qualification prospects from Ireland on Tuesday.
GERMANY: Neuer (Bayern Munich); Lahm (Bayern Munich), Boateng (Bayern Munich), Mertesacker (Arsenal), Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund); Khedira (Real Madrid), Kroos (Bayern Munich); Muller (Bayern Munich), Ozil (Arsenal), Reus (Borussia Dortmund); Klose (Lazio).
Subs: Howedes (Schalke) for Schmelzer (46), Bender (Bayer Leverkusen) for Klose (81), Draxler (Schalke) for Reus (90).
AUSTRIA: Almer (FC Energie Cottbus); Garics (Bologna), Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev), Pogatetz (FC Nuremberg), Fuchs (Schalke); Kavlak (Besiktas), Alaba (Bayern Munich); Arnautovic (Stoke City), Harnik (VfB Stuttgart), Ivanschitz (Levante); Weimann (Aston Villa). Subs: Baumgartlinger (FSV Mainz) for Kavlak, Sabitzer (Rapid Wien) for Ivanschitz (both 67), Klein (Red Bull Salzburg) for Garics (78)
Referee: Milorad Maic (SRB).