Germany seal place in World Cup finals with comfortable victory over Northern Ireland
Windsor Park, World Cup qualifying Group C – Northern Ireland 1 (Magennis 90’+3) Germany 3 (Rudy 2, Wagner 21, Kimmich 86)
Germany sealed their place in next year’s World Cup finals with a game to spare as they comfortably overcame Northern Ireland in Belfast thanks to goals from Sebastian Rudy, Sandro Wagner and Joshua Kimmich.
Joachim Low’s side only needed a draw to guarantee their place at Russia 2018, and a stunning 25-yard strike by Rudy after only 77 seconds gave the visitors the initiative as Northern Ireland conceded their first goal at home in this campaign.
Sebastian Rudy of Germany shoots past Michael McGovern of Northern Ireland to score his goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park on October 5, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.Getty Images
Wagner struck the post with a header only minutes before he doubled Germany’s advantage with a spectacular second from the edge of the penalty area.
Germany had to absorb some pressure from the hosts after the restart and they left it late to seal the points, full-back Kimmich’s half-volley from the tightest of angles squeezing past Michael McGovern with only five minutes to play.
Northern Ireland finally grabbed the goal their second-half performance warranted in stoppage-time when Josh Magennis bundled the ball over the line after Germany failed to deal with Chris Brunt’s corner.
The result means Germany have now won all nine of their previous Group C games and they will be aiming to conclude their impeccable campaign with a victory over Azerbaijan at home on Sunday. Meanwhile, second-placed Northern Ireland can secure their spot in the play-offs with a draw at Norway on the same day.
Low’s second-string much too strong as away run continues: Germany extended their run of unbeaten away World Cup qualifiers to 47 matches - they were last beaten on their travels in March 1934. Even without the likes of key players Manuel Neuer, Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil, they were far too superior for a well-organised Northern Ireland side that had kept seven consecutive clean-sheets. Like they did at the Confederations Cup, Germany proved their incredible strength in depth as they cruised to victory. Even their reserve players are special - and Low will have an almighty headache when selecting his team at Russia 2018.
Germany's striker Sandro Wagner (R) celebrates with Germany's defender Joshua Kimmich (L) and Germany's defender Mats Hummels (C) after scoring their second goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Northern Ireland and GermGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Joshua Kimmich (Germany): The Bayern Munich full-back provided width in Germany’s attack, constantly finding space to deliver pin-point crosses for team mates. Scored his side’s third.
Sebastian Rudy and Joshua KimmichGetty Images
2’ - GOAL! Northern Ireland 0-1 Germany. A stunning goal from Sebastian Rudy gives the visitors a second minute lead! The hosts can only partially clear a cross, the loose ball is teed up for Rudy who smashes an unstoppable strike from 25 yards beyond the reach of Michael McGovern.
16’ - OFF THE POST! The woodwork comes to the rescue for Northern Ireland! Kimmich is left with acres of space and he swings in a pinpoint cross for Wagner whose header smashes agonisingly off the post.
21’ - GOAL! Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany. Sandro Wagner lets the ball roll across his body, giving him space for a shot as he curls the ball into the top corner in spectacular fashion from the edge of the penalty area. A sensational goal, and Germany are cruising in Belfast.
Sandro Wagner (R) of Germany scores during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park on October 5, 2017 in Belfast, Northern IrelandGetty Images
77’ - WASHINGTON HITS THE CROSSBAR! There is Northern Ireland's best chance, but they have blown it! Magennis does brilliantly to win the ball from Hummels before feeding Washington inside the box, he jinks past Boateng but his shot agonisingly smashes off the woodwork and goes over.
86’ - GOAL! Northern Ireland 0-3 Germany. Joshua Kimmich rounds off a successful night for the visitors with a lovely half-volley finish as he somehow squeezes it past Michael McGovern from a tight angle at the back-post.
90’+ 3 GOAL! Northern Ireland 1-3 Germany. The hosts grab a well-deserved consolation goal at the death - McAuley is left unmarked at the back post from a corner, he nods it on for Magennis who bundles it over the line.
- This was the 17th meeting on the international stage between Northern Ireland and Germany - NI have won only twice (D4 L11).
- Germany are unbeaten in their last 18 matches in all competitions, winning 15 and drawing three.
- Northern Ireland conceded three goals for the first time in 25 competitive games - since losing 3-2 to Luxembourg in September 2013.