No­body can stop Loew’s Ger­man ma­chine

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

RUTH­LESS Ger­many made it three wins from three World Cup qual­i­fiers with a 2-0 vic­tory over spir­ited North­ern Ire­land on Oc­to­ber 11 to stay top of their group. First-half goals by Ju­lian Draxler and Sami Khedira sealed the win in Hanover and the world cham­pi­ons have yet to con­cede a goal in their qual­i­fiers for Rus­sia 2018.

“Just like in our last game we played with a lot of con­cen­tra­tion and ag­gres­sion,” said Khedira.

“All in all, we can be happy, es­pe­cially with the first half. There’s room for im­prove­ment, but it was a good re­sult.”

Ger­many have lost just two of 85 World Cup qual­i­fiers in their proud his­tory and were in no mood to give the North­ern Ir­ish a first win on Ger­man soil for 33 years.

With nine qual­i­fy­ing points to their credit, the Ger­mans will fin­ish the year with a per­fect record if they next beat min­nows San Marino, ranked 198 places be­low them, away on Novem­ber 11.

The same night, third-placed North­ern Ire­land host Azer­bai­jan, who are sec­ond in Group C, in a crunch qual­i­fier.

Ger­many’s head coach Joachim Loew started with the same side which beat the Czech Repub­lic 3-0 in Ham­burg on Oc­to­ber 8.

His op­po­site num­ber Michael O’Neill made three changes to the side which beat 10-man San Marino 4-0 in Belfast, but Kyle Laf­ferty, who net­ted twice on Satur­day, started again on the bench.

Hav­ing been re­stricted to a 1-0 win when the sides last met, in the group stages of Euro 2016, the Ger­mans raced into a 2-0 lead with less than 20 min­utes gone.

Mario Goetze’s header tested Ir­ish goal­keeper Michael McGovern early on and Ger­many took the lead on 13 min­utes.

Thomas Mueller laid the ball off for Draxler, who ri­fled his shot into the bot­tom right-hand cor­ner.

De­spite pack­ing bod­ies into the penalty area, the Ir­ish de­fence was again beaten on 17 min­utes when Me­sut Ozil’s cross was headed on by Mats Hum­mels.

Khedira used his head to nudge the ball over the line to make it 2-0, but the goals spurred North­ern Ire­land into ac­tion.

At­tack­ing mid­fielder Jamie Ward man­aged a weak shot at goal­keeper Manuel Neuer on a rare foray into the Ger­man half.

And a good save from McGovern de­nied Joshua Kim­mich.

Goetze then had the ball in the net when he flicked Mueller’s pass into the net, but the goal was flagged for off­side.

With half-time ap­proach­ing Jerome Boateng fouled Ward just out­side the area, but Oliver Nor­wood blasted the free-kick over the bar on 42 min­utes.

Loew brought on Manch­ester City’s Ilkay Gun­do­gan for Ozil in the at­tack­ing mid­field role, which seemed to dis­rupt the Ger­mans’ rhythm.

The Ir­ish dug in for the sec­ond half as Ger­many strug­gled to make head­way through the vis­i­tors’ dense de­fence.

The tempo dropped and good work from McGovern thwarted sev­eral Ger­man at­tacks.

Laf­ferty, who has scored nine goals in 11 qual­i­fiers, came on for the fi­nal 15 min­utes, but the Ger­man de­fence was rarely trou­bled. –

Photo: AFP

Ger­many’s play­ers warm up dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Hanover, Ger­many, on Oc­to­ber 10.

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