Created on 11-10-2016 at 22:45 PM by Redaktion
Five Bayern players made the starting line-up as Germany maintained their perfect record in 2018 World Cup qualifying in Hannover on Tuesday night, where a 42,132 crowd saw the home side beat Northern Ireland 2-0 and advance to nine points from three games. Julian Draxler (13) and Sami Khedira (17) converted assists from Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels to wrap it up in the first half for the world champions.
"Our goal was a good performance," commented Manuel Neuer. The keeper's latest clean sheet means it is the first time Germany have avoided conceding in any of the first three matches of a qualifying campaign. "We kept it completely under control in the second half and made sure the game never got away from us," Neuer summarised.
Coach Joachim Löw fielded an unchanged line-up from the 3-0 success against the Czech Republic at the weekend and his players responded with another fluid and slick display. An excellent passing move between Joshua Kimmich and Müller after three minutes saw Mario Götze just fail to open the scoring, but the next two chances went in: Draxler tucked away Müller's inventive lay-off, before Khedira reacted first to head home a Hummels assist following a corner.
Especially in the first half, the visitors posed a sporadic threat on the break but Neuer was equal to the challenge. The world champions continued to fashion the better of the chances, with Khedira (56), Kimmich (63), fit-again Jérôme Boateng (66, shortly before being substituted) and Toni Kroos (67) all going close. "We settled for the 2-0 win after that," Müller observed afterwards.
Germany's next Group C qualifier is the trip to San Marino on 11 November (20:45) before a prestige friendly away to Italy four days later.
Lewandowski spares Poles' blushes
Poland required a Robert Lewandowski strike with the last kick of the match to record a 2-1 home win over Armenia, who arrived for the game bottom of Group E on no points. The Bayern striker's muscular presence forced Armenia's Hrayr Mkoyan into a 48th-minute own goal to open the scoring at the National Stadium in Warsaw, but Marcos stunned the hosts with a 50th-minute equaliser. Lewandowski and his team-mates enjoyed the advantage of an extra man for more than an hour but looked like being frustrated until the FCB marksman netted the winner five minutes into stopppage time. Poland are now level with leaders Montenegro on seven points at the top of the section.