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Thursday 05 Oct 2017
World champions Germany secure 3-1 win in Belfast

Germany came to Belfast and demonstrated exactly why they are the current World Champions with a 3-1 defeat of Northern Ireland at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

It wasn't the start Northern Ireland wanted when, after just 82 seconds, Sebastian Rudy unleashed a tremendous right-foot finish from some 30 yards into the top corner giving Michael McGovern no chance.

Joshua Kimmich provided the assist and he was involved again a short time later as Germany came close to grabbing a second when his cross into the box was met by Sandro Wagner but his turn and shot was dealt with by McGovern.

Then, on 18 minutes, Kimmich again proved to be a thorn in Northern Ireland's side with another cross for Wagner, who went even closer with a header onto the back post.

But Wagner wasn't to be denied on 21 minutes. Thomas Müller unlocked the home defence to play the ball onto Wagner's feet on the edge of the box before the Hoffenheim man turned past his marker to send a left-foot drive into the top corner.

As the first half progressed Northern Ireland began to gain more of a foothold on proceedings and might have reduced the deficit four minutes from the break after Josh Magennis carried the ball up the right before delivering a cross into the box for Corry Evans but he was denied by the onrushing Marc-André ter Stegen.

Germany crafted the first serious attempt of the second half on 52 minutes when a Marvin Plattenhardt delivery was nodded goalbound by Müller although McGovern proved more than equal to the challenge, producing a diving save to push the ball out for a corner.

Although Northern Ireland did enjoy more possession chances in front of goal were at a premium and, indeed, it fell to the visitors to almost grab the third goal of the game on 68 minutes but Toni Kroos, through on goal, fired well over the target when he could and should have done so much better.

Northern Ireland continued to fight and almost pulled one back with just under a quarter-of-an-hour remaining only to be denied by the woodwork after Conor Washington took the ball past Jérôme Boateng but blasted his shot against the crossbar.

If that had gone in it could well have sparked a grandstand finish but, as it was, Germany put the game to bed with a third goal on 86 minutes when Kimmich grabbed the goal his performance and contribution deserved with a near post volley past McGovern into the bottom right corner.

That wasn't the end of the scoring. Three minutes into stoppage time Gareth McAuley nodded the ball into the box from a corner for Magennis to turn the ball past ter Stegen from close range.

It didn't change the outcome but it ensured Northern Ireland ended the game on a high ahead of the group closer in Norway on Sunday evening.

Northern Ireland: McGovern, Brunt, Hodson, McAuley, J. Evans, McLaughlin, C. Evans, Davis, Norwood, Lafferty, Magennis subs Mannus (not used), Carroll (not used), Ferguson (not used), McGinn (not used), Washington (replaced Lafferty 69), Dallas (replaced Hodson 46), Paton (not used), Flanagan (not used), Morris (not used), Saville (replaced C. Evans 80), Jones (not used), Lund (not used)

Germany: ter Stegen, Plattenhardt, Hummels, Müller, Boateng, Kimmich, Goretzka, Rudy subs Trapp (not used), Leno (not used), Mustafi (not used), Ginter (not used), Süle (not used), Stindl (replaced Müller 83), Can (replaced Goretzka 66), Younes (not used), Rüdiger (not used), Brandt (not used), Sané (replaced Daxler 72)