VIENNA - Germany striker Mario Gomez enjoyed a night to remember in Vienna on Friday, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Austria in the same stadium where three years ago he endured one of his most embarrassing gaffes.
Gomez probably still cringes at the Euro 2008 group match where he contrived to miss from three metres against the same opponents, somehow scooping the ball into the air and seeing it headed off the line by a defender.
Although Germany won 1-0, he was substituted and the match effectively ended his tournament as he lost his starting place in the team and made only a brief appearance in the final as a substitute.
There was no hint of trauma as he returned to the Ernst-Happel stadium to snatch a late win for an injury-hit, below-par and weary Germany against feisty opponents in their Euro 2012 qualifier.
"In the second half, he was always on the mark," said coach Joachim Low after a difficult match against opponents 70 places below Germany in the world rankings and determined to cause an upset.
"He only had a bit-part at the World Cup and also at Bayern at the start of this season. But he is bursting with self-belief. He has the self-assurance to turn a chance into a goal."
It was the perfect way to end a season which has seen Gomez revive his career.
The 25-year-old became the Bundesliga's most expensive signing when he joined Bayern Munich from VfB Stuttgart two years ago.
But he struggled in his first season with the Bavarians and made only four substitute appearances for Germany at the World Cup last year.
This year, an injury crisis at Bayern let him back into the first team and he took the chance with both hands, finishing as the Bundesliga's top scorer with 28 goals and also scoring eight times in the Champions League.
His tally included a remarkable six hat-tricks.
Low, who fielded a starting line-up with an average age of 24, admitted that Germany were far from their best despite notching their sixth straight win Group A.
"It was a lucky win and we did not make the most of our technical superiority," said Low, whose players now face a long-trip to Azerbaijan for another qualifier on Tuesday to round off an exhausting season.
"We made too many mistakes, did not play clearly and, in every part of the team, we were not precise or dynamic enough."
Without directly mentioning the international calendar, Low added that the short break after last year's World Cup in South Africa had caused knock-on effects for his players throughout the season.
"I had the feeling that a lot of players, especially the ones who took part in the World Cup, were at the limit of their strength after a long season," he said.