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World Cup in sight

Hummels has Germany fans cheering

Germany have maintained their perfect record in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, thanks to a late headed goal by Mats Hummels. The Bayern defender scored the winner in the 88th minute of Friday's match in the Czech Republic, following earlier goals by Timo Werner (4) and Vladimir Darida (78). If Germany win against bottom-placed Kazakhstan this Monday in Stuttgart, they will clinch a spot in the World Cup.

'It's just brilliant to head something in like that in the last minute, and then to win', said Hummels, delighted with his goal. Nevertheless, he was not satisfied with his team's performance: 'We gave up possession too easily. Maybe we weren't patient enough, and were trying too hard. Their counterattacks were really dangerous. Today's performance doesn't represent how we can, and want to play football.'

At the Eden Arena in Prague, the same place where FC Bayern won the UEFA Super Cup almost exactly four years ago, the Czech team put up a good fight against the Germans. Though Germany took an early lead through Werner, they struggled to create chances later on. Lars Stindl came the closest, latching onto a pass by Thomas Müller in the 20th minute. Darida rewarded his team for their courageous performance with a long-range equaliser just 12 minutes before the final whistle. But it was Hummels' header from a Toni Kroos free kick which settled the match.

Captain Müller

'We started off well, and should have scored another goal in the first half,” said Müller, 'but we gave the ball away far too easily for my taste, and so we had to chase after it. We made life so difficult for ourselves.'

With three games to go, Germany (21 points) are the clear frontrunners in Group C, followed by Northern Ireland (16) and Czech Republic (9). FC Bayern players Hummels and Joshua Kimmich both played the full 90 minutes in Prague. This was also Müller's first time captaining Germany in a competitive match. Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle remained on the bench.

First defeat for Lewy

Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski had an unsuccessful day with Poland, who suffered their first defeat in the World Cup qualifiers in Copenhagen, losing 4-0 to Denmark. The goals were scored by Thomas Delaney (15), Andreas Cornelius (42), Nicolai Jørgensen (59) and Christian Eriksen (79). Lewandowski captained the team for the full 90 minutes.

Despite the heavy defeat Poland remain first in the Group E standings, although Denmark and Montenegro have moved to within three points with three games remaining. On Monday, the Polish team face bottom-placed Kazakhstan at home in Warsaw.

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