The Bundesliga's top goalscorer got his country out of a hole as they made it six wins from six in Group A despite an underwhelming performance against a spirited Austrian side
A lacklustre German side were grateful to Mario Gomez, whose late winner secured a 2-1 victory in Vienna against a determined Austrian side. The hosts were the superior outfit for long periods but eventually succumbed to a sixth successive defeat against their more illustrious neighbours.
After surviving a number of defensive wobbles, Germany took the lead two minutes before half-time through Mario Gomez. Arne Friedrich flicked on Toni Kroos' inswinging corner and the persistence of the Bundesliga's top scorer paid off as he bundled the ball home past Christian Gratzei.
Germany's defence had led a charmed life and it was a deserved equaliser for the hosts five minutes into the second period. David Alaba found just enough space down the left against Philipp Lahm and he delivered a fine low cross into the six-yard area, which was met by the unfortunate Arne Friedrich, who inadvertently helped the ball past a stranded Manuel Neuer.
Just when the game looked to be heading for a draw, Gomez rescued his side with a 90th minute winner. The tall striker was in the right place at the right time to head Lahm's cross from the right beyond Gratzei to secure a somewhat undeserved three points.
Both sides were not shy in coming forward from the off and Martin Harnik went close in the fourth minute as he stooped to head a free-kick narrowly wide of the post. Germany responded when a defensive mix-up on the part of the Austrians only failed to lead to a goal thanks to Christian Fuchs' goal-line clearance. Lukas Podolski then rattled the crossbar moments later with a fizzing strike from just outside the area.
Bayern Munich fans may have winced on the half-hour when Manuel Neuer came off his line and failed to claim an Alaba corner, however, a surprised Harnik could only shoot over the bar from close range. Germany grew ever sloppier and were fortunate not to have conceded when Erwin Hoffer turned Mats Hummels inside the German box before somehow skewing his shot wide.
The equaliser only served to boost the hosts' confidence and Joachim Low reacted furiously on the touchline when Marcel Schmelzer lost out to the impressive Harnik down Austria's right. The Stuttgart attacker then found Stefan Kulovits, whose volley was tipped onto the post by an alert Neuer on 52 minutes.
Low rang the changes in the second-half, bringing on Holger Badstuber and Andre Schurrle but the Austrians remained the superior side with Alaba driving the team on. While the visitors tightened up somewhat at the back, they remained bereft of creativity and ideas in the face of a disciplined Austrian performance. However, Gomez saved the day late on.
Germany remain top of Group A and on course for automatic qualification for Euro 2012 with 18 points from their six matches. Austria have seven points and lie in fourth place behind Belgium and Turkey.