Germany's unstoppable march through Group C of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign continued on Thursday, as Die Mannschaft maintained their perfect record with a routine 3-1 win over Northern Ireland. The result sealed qualification for the Germans.
Sebastian Rudy gave the visitors an early lead with a stunning strike, and Sandro Wagner doubled their advantage before half-time. Joshua Kimmich gave the Germans their final goal late, and Josh Magennis grabbed a consolation goal for the hosts.
Here's a look at the teams that started the match:
Here's how #DieMannschaft line up against @NorthernIreland! 🇩🇪 #NIRGER https://t.co/KueMsRSA6l2017-10-5 17:37:15
Northern Ireland @NorthernIreland
🎥 Here's our starting 11 to face the World Champions 🙌 💚 #DareToDream #GAWA #NIRGER https://t.co/Lii7JeFids2017-10-5 17:52:21
Germany enjoyed a brilliant start to the contest, as it took the team just two minutes to take the lead. Rudy let fly from a long way out, finding the top corner with a sensational strike.
FC Bayern US described the goal with a simple image:
The early setback didn't damage the hosts' confidence, as Northern Ireland kept attacking. That did leave them vulnerable to the counter, and Wagner put goalkeeper Michael McGovern to work after a clever turn.
Oliver Norwood missed high with Northern Ireland's first real chance, but the best looks kept falling to Die Mannshaft, and Wagner directed a header on to the post.
Leon Goretzka only just missed a sharp cross before Wagner doubled the advantage, firing a quick shot after Thomas Muller delivered him the ball.
Cristian Nyari of FC Bayern US couldn't help himself:
Cristian Nyari @Cnyari
Every time Sandro Wagner scores an angel gets its wings2017-10-5 19:06:20
Julian Draxler perhaps should have taken a little more time to get off a volley, firing over instead, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen flashed his talent shortly before half-time to deny Corry Evans.
Germany started the second half the way they ended the first, by schooling their opponents. McGovern had to be alert to deny Muller after 52 minutes with a secure save from a cross.
The hosts improved as the half wore on, but Die Mannschaft easily controlled the pace and were barely troubled. They occasionally marched forward as well, with Toni Kroos firing a shot over the bar. Wagner nearly took advantage of a poor back-pass, but McGovern cleared just in time.
Northern Ireland's best chance to score fell to Conor Washington, who hit the crossbar with just over 10 minutes left to play. Leroy Sane also went close late, rounding the 'keeper before missing the empty net, but Kimmich finally gave the Germans their third goal with a smart strike from close range.
Per Gracenote Live, the defender has quickly become a vital player for Germany:
Gracenote Live @GracenoteLive
Joshua Kimmich scores for Germany. He is the only player who has played in all 12 of Germany's matches in 2017.2017-10-5 20:28:22
There was one more goal to come still, as Magennis grabbed a late consolation goal off a corner.