Germany win group, Poland runners-up
Germany with five FCB pros in the starting line-up won their last group match on Tuesday evening, winning Group C and sealing a spot in the Round of 16 after a thoroughly deserved 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland. Robert Lewandowski and Poland finished equal on points, second on goal difference after a 1-0 victory over Ukraine. Germany are likely to encounter Slovakia in the first knockout round, Poland take on Switzerland.
“We put into practice what we've worked on, we found space and took shots at the right moment,” Müller commented after the final whistle, satisfied with the victory. “Only the goals were missing, I could have caught up with Gareth Bale today,” the native Bavarian commented with a wink, “it was a step forward. If we remain hungry we'll score more goals.”
Germany head coach Joachim Löw had good news for Joshua Kimmich before the match. The Bayern youngster made his first appearance in a competitive fixture for the world champions. Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Thomas Müller, Mario Götze and new FCB signing Mats Hummels featured in the starting line-up, as did former FCB striker Mario Gomez.
As expected the Ulstermen parked the bus, but Germany created gilt-edged opportunities from the start. Joachim Löw's troops set off at a furious pace, Müller, Özil and Götze missed early chances. Kimmich supplied impetus up front, setting up Müller's header which struck the post. The FCB starlet also initiated the attack that put Germany in the lead when Müller set up Gomez on the half-hour.
Müller hit the woodwork yet again, Götze missed two chances within 60 seconds early in the second half. Subsequently Germany let the pace drop, Götze and Boateng with minor calf problems left the pitch, Germany closed out the narrow but thoroughly deserved victory. The world champions will encounter one of the best third-placed sides in Lille on Sunday at 18.00 CET, most likely Slovakia.
Poland through after narrow win
Lewandowski and his Polish compatriots struggled against Ukraine, who had been eliminated before the match. The Bayern striker missed a chance early into the contest, but the last-placed side were more active. Jakub Blaszczykowski produced a goal from nowhere before the hour, scoring the match-winner. Poland went on to secure three points, Lewandowski played the full 90 minutes.