World Cup Qualifier Report - Northern Ireland 1 - 3 Germany
Published: October 05, 2017

Macdara Ferris reporting from Windsor Park


Germany secured qualification for the World Cup with ease as they made it nine victories from nine in qualification for Russia 2018 with a 3-1 win in Windsor Park on Thursday night. Michael O’Neill’s men had won their last five qualifiers without conceding a goal but it was a task too far to try and keep out a Germany side out that have been flawless in this campaign to date.


Northern Ireland had already secured second place in the group but whatever chance they felt they had of being the only team to ever inflict an away World Cup qualification defeat for Germany went out the window very early at Windsor Park.


The World Champions required only 80 seconds to take the lead against Michael O’Neill’s men. It was Sebastian Rudy who raised the roof in the away section of the ground.


The Bayern Munich midfielder let fly from all of 30 yards to drive the ball into the top corner of the net. If goalkeeper Michael McGovern couldn't do anything about Rudy's goal, he did brilliantly to palm away Sandro Wagner's goalbound effort soon after.


It was an unorthodox effort from the Hoffeheim striker who got his chest on a cross on the edge of the six yard box but the ‘keeper stuck out a hand to save his team going two down in the opening five minutes.


Michael O’Neill, managing his national side for the 50th time, had deployed his men with a back three formation but most of the time it was five across the edge of the area as they got men behind the ball to try and frustrate the visitors.


The home team did win a couple of quick corners in the opening period and had a shot from Oliver Norwood but it wasn’t until the final five minutes of the half that Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a save to make in the German goal.


By that time the home side were two goals down. Sandro Wagner had hit the post on 17 minutes with a header but he made no mistake midway through the first half.


He got on the end of a delightful cross from his captain Thomas Muller. He swept his left foot around the ball at the edge of the area to temporarily silence the home crowd.


The Green and White Army in the stands were given something to cheer about just before the break after Northern Ireland swept forward down the left through Lee Hodson and Josh Magennis. It was Magennis’ cross that came to Corry Evans at the backpost but his goalbound toe poke was saved by ter-Stegen.


Moments later Kyle Lafferty had a free header that he couldn’t direct on target and it remained 2-0 to the World Champions at the break.


It remained a similar story in the second period with the home side under pressure for much of the half. Six minutes in McGovern pulled off another wonderful save, this time tipping a goalbound Muller header around the post for a corner.


Toni Kroos really should have done better with the best of them on 72 minutes but he ballooned it over the bar when he had way more time to pick his spot. It was a similar story for Leroy Sane too.


Substitute Conor Washington was so unlucky not to get a goal back when he whacked the ball off the bar after Magennis had got the better of Mats Hummels on the left.


When the sides met last year at the Euros, Germany dominated the play in their win with Northern Ireland’s resolute defending keeping the World Champions to just the one goal. This time around they certainly had more of the play and they limited Germany to long range shots for much of the second half.


However having conceded two in the first half, they couldn’t shut Joachim Low’s side out in the second half though. Joshua Kimmech wasn’t as wasteful as his teammates with his opportunity which came four minutes from time. He got on the end of a headed clearance at the back post to power the ball home from an acute angle through a see of green and white shirts.


The home fans were sent home with a certain spring in their step after Josh Magennis flicked home a Gareth McAuley header off a late Northern Ireland corner. It was only the third goal that Germany had conceded in the qualifying campaign.


It didn’t matter for Die Mannschaft with their players going over to celebrate the confirmation of their qualification for Russia 2018 with the travelling German support after the final whistle as Northern Ireland suffered their first competitive defeat at home for four years.


Northern Ireland: Michael McGovern; Conor McLaughlin, Lee Hodson (Stuart Dallas h/t), Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt; Oliver Norwood, Stephen Davis, Corry Evans (George Saveille 80); Josh Magennis, Kyle Lafferty (Conor Washington 69).

Subs not used: Roy Carroll (gk), Alan Mannus (gk), Tom Flanagan, Shane Ferguson,  Niall McGinn, Paul Paton, Matthew Lund, Callum Morris, Jordan Jones.

Booked: None.


Germany:  Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Marvin Plattenhardt; Sebastian Rudy, Toni Kroos; Leon Goretzka (Emre Can 66), Thomas Muller (Lars Stindl 84), Julian Draxler (Leroy Sane 72); Sandro Wagner.

Subs not used: Kevin Trapp (gk), Bernd Leno (gk), Shkodran Mustafi, Matthias Ginter, Niklas Sule, Amin Younes, Antonio Rudiger, Julian Brandt.

Booked: None.


Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)

Attendance: 18,104. man of the match: Sandro Wagner (Germany)


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Macdara Ferris

Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team.

He has been a writer with since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.

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