Klose suspension could prove costly for Germany
BERLIN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Germany's 1-1 draw with Cyprus was enough to take them top of Euro 2008 qualifying Group D but their hopes of staying there were hit by a suspension to Miroslav Klose.
The World Cup top scorer received his second yellow card of the campaign in Wednesday's untidy match in Nicosia and he will miss the key clash away to Czech Republic on March 24.
Germany and the Czechs each have 10 points from four games, with Slovakia third on six.
With the top two teams qualifying, Germany probably have little to worry about despite losing their perfect record under Joachim Loew.
But Loew will be frustrated at once again being unable to field the forward partnership of Klose and Lukas Podolski, after the latter missed Wednesday's game because of injury.
Oliver Neuville did little against Cyprus to stake a claim for a regular place and substitute Mike Hanke made an equally modest impact.
Germany will also be without full back Clemens Fritz against the Czechs but Loew has far more options in defence than he does in attack.
It was Michael Ballack who put Germany ahead on Wednesday. His low drive following a short free kick gave him his 35th goal in the 15th minute of his 75th international appearance.
Cyprus hit back just before halftime when Yiannakis Okkas volleyed past Timo Hildebrand, who had an uncomfortable night as a stand-in for Jens Lehmann.
Lehmann was one of a series of absentees and Loew was happy enough to have made it through the final international date of the year with a point and first place in the group.
'We were missing a lot of players and some of the players we did have lacked freshness but we shouldn't look for excuses,' said Loew, who stepped up to replace Juergen Klinsmann after Germany finished third at the World Cup.
'It's been a very, very positive year. We hit a good level of play and we've been very consistent, against all our opponents.'