Rudy wonder goal secures World Cup place
A Germany team featuring five Bayern players in the line-up celebrated an assured 3-1 win over Northern Ireland last night and with it their qualification for the World Cup. With one match to spare, Germany have secured top spot in group C with 27 points, eight ahead of Northern Ireland who are well-placed to qualify for the play-offs as one of the best runners-up. A wonder strike from Sebastian Rudy in the second minute and goals from Sandro Wagner (21') and Joshua Kimmich (86') made it nine wins out of nine in qualifying. The hosts' goal from Josh Magennis in stoppage time came too late.
Joachim Löw was able to rely on a strong contingent from FCB. Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng formed the centre-back partnership, Kimmich occupied the right-back slot, Rudy played in central midfield and captain Thomas Müller provided a threat in the three behind the striker. Niklas Süle was the only Bayern player not to feature.
Dream start through Rudy
A point would have been enough for Die Mannschaft but they wanted to put it beyond doubt. Shortly after Rudy's rocket into the top corner on two minutes, Sandro Wagner had a good chance to double the lead after a great cross from Kimmich but he failed to beat goalkeeper Michael McGovern from close range. However the Hoffenheim striker made no mistake in the 21^st^ minute when he headed in another cross.
For the rest of the match, the reigning world champions were clearly the dominant side and restricted Northern Ireland to only a couple of chances. Marc-André ter Stegen was only called into action once in the first half, saving from Corry Evans in the 40th minute. Müller had the first good opportunity of the second period but was denied by a strong save from McGovern. The hosts grew in confidence after that but Conor Washington's shot against the bar in the 77^th^ minute was all that came from it.
Kimmich then sealed the victory shortly before the end, meaning Magennis' headed goal from a corner in the third minute of stoppage time was nothing more than a consolation. Löw's side can now complete a perfect qualifying campaign in Kaiserslautern on Sunday when they play Azerbaijan (20:45 CEST).