Just about enough in Dortmund

After Wednesday’s party let-down against Argentina, it is back to the serious business for Joachim Löw’s side this evening in Dortmund – with Scotland the visitors as the qualification campaign for the Euro 2016 tournament in France gets underway. The Nationaltrainer has made a number of changes, some expected and some offering a just little frisson of surprise.

The first expected change to the starting lineup sees regular fullback Jérôme Boateng come in for Matthias Ginter to join Beneikt Höwedes, while there is a surprise as Sebastian Rudy – usually a defensive midfielder – replaces Kevin Großkreutz at right-back. Despite his poor performance against Argentina Erik Durm retains is place on the left side of the Viererkette. It’s the first competitive cap for the Dortmund youngster on his home grounds.

The defensive midfield partnership remains the same with Christoph Kramer and Toni Kroos, while up front the Julian Draxler is replaced as expected by Thomas Müller – who joins Marco Reus and André Schürrle. Up front, there is no immediate second chance for Mario Gómez, who takes his place on the bench as Mario Götze starts.

It’s a fine evening in Dortmund, and the two teams walk out into a wonderfully-decorated cauldron. The stands are decked out, with a big gold star on display for the World Champions. Speeches are made by both captains to start the pre-match programme, and the national anthems provide the final prelude for the start of yet another qualifying campaign that will take us through to the end of 2015.

1 min. The home team in the now familiar all white get things underway on the signal from Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar Moen, with the visitors in blue shirts and shorts and dark red socks.

3 mins. A strong start from the Nationalmannschaft results in their first corner, but the effort from Kroos is poor and easily cleared.

4 mins. Rudy looks to get the ball into the Scottish box but the ball is easily collected by ‘keeper David Marshall.

6 mins. André Schürrle picks the ball up on on the left touchline and races in towards the opposition penalty area, but his right-footed shot flies high and wide of the target.

7 mins. Another corner for Germany, and this time the delivery is better. Jérôme Boateng nods it on towards the far post, but Marshall punches it clear for the throw. The throw creates a crossing opportunity for Durm, and the ball is floated beautifully for Müller whose header is woefully wide. There’s a question whether he was marginally offside, but with no flag being raised it has to go down as an opportunity missed.

9 mins. Kroos has a long-distance effort that flies both high and wide.

13 mins. It has been all Germany so far, but they really need a goal to get things going. The Scottish supporters are in good voice as Flower of Scotland rings around the stadium.

14 mins. The first real offensive move from the Scots, and it’s a good one. Ikechi Anya gives Boateng trouble as he tries to cut into the box from the left, and James Morrison’s shot is deflected for a corner. The corner is well delivered and Germany clear their lines, but Anya’s return into the box finds Charlie Mulgrew whose shot cannons off the inside of the far post before dropping behind the line. The flag is up for offside though.

16 mins. Left-back Erik Durm gets a decent shot on target but Marshall does well to keep it out.

18 mins. Rudy picks up the ball on the right inside the Scottish half, and delivers a perfect cross into the danger zone. There to meet it is Müller, who sends in a header reminiscent of the great Uwe Seeler. Marshall has no chance as the ball loops beautifully into the top right-hand corner of the net, and Germany are in front. 1-0.

Thomas Müller opens the scoring with a header reminiscent of Uwe Seeler’s famous goal against England at the World Cup in 1970

20 mins. There’s a very suspect looking challenge from Höwedes on Steven Naismith as the Scottish player looks to charge towards the German goal, but the referee or his officials fail to see anything untoward. The German centre-back has to consider himself very, very lucky to still be on the pitch.

22 mins. Schürrle gets another shot on target after some good approach play by Götze, but it is straight at Marshall.

24 mins. Chaos in the Scottish box as Christoph Kramer cannot get a shot in and Reus has a scuffed effort blocked before Kroos blazes another effort without troubling Marshall.

26 mins. Reus has another decent strike, which is curling away and into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal before is it brilliantly pushed away by Marshall. Schürrle collects the rebound and his shot from a tight angle is also on target, but Russell Martin is there to block.

29 mins. A speculative from Rudy is on target but easily collected by Marshall.

31 mins. Kramer has looked good so far, and works his way into the Scottish penalty area before his attempted cutback is blocked.

35 mins. Reus whips in a cross that is dealt with by the Scottish defence, but elsewhere in the penalty area Müller goes down in a blur of spindly arms and legs. It’s a decent shout for a spot-kick, but the referee again waves play on in spite of the Bayern man’s protests.

38 mins. Durm breaks fast down the left and manages to sprint to the byline and keep the ball in play, but Kramer can’t get there in time to keep the move going.

40 mins. Kramer finds Schürrle out on the left, but the Chelsea man’s dinked effort floats just high and right of the target.

41 mins. A well-timed run from Mario Götze wins yet another corner, but again it comes to nothing.

42 mins. A sweeper-keeper moment from Neuer – complete with the perfect touchline-skimming pass – is followed by a swift German break down the left, and Schürrle’s almost perfect cross is slightly deflected away from Reus before Grant Hanley gets another touch. Marshall is able to reposition himself well and push the ball away.

44 mins. Anya gets the better of Rudy and has half a chance at the other end, but Neuer collects with ease.

45 mins. The whistle is blown for half-time.

The game has gone pretty much to form, with Germany dominating proceedings from the start. There has been chances aplenty, and Scotland ‘keeper Marshall has kept his side in the game with a number of good saves. That said, Germany can consider themselves lucky not have been reduced to ten men after the clumsy challenge by Höwedes on the competitive Naismith.

46 mins. Scotland get the second half under way.

48 mins. So close to an equaliser. Right-back Alan Hutton storms forward, finding Naismith who worms away from Boateng’s challenge and sidesteps Höwedes before getting his shot away. Neuer can only watch as the ball shaves the outside of the far post.

50 mins. Reus finds Götze out on the right, and he is fouled by Grant Hanley who is the first man to make his way into the referee’s notebook.

51 mins. The free-kick is well delivered by Reus and the defenders desperately crowd in top clear. The ball falls to Schürrle, whose shot is well-struck and little else. There’s plenty of time to take an extra touch, but instead he sends the ball high over the target and into the stands.

57 mins. Another corner for Germany, and Reus’ sends in a teasing ball but Scotland clear.

58 mins.The first change for the visitors as Steven Fletcher and James McArthur come on for Barry Bannan and skipper Darren Fletcher.

59 mins. Anya works his way down the left and sends in a cross behind the German defence. The unmarked Naismith is in acres of space, but his left-footed effort is horribly mistimed as another chance comes and goes for the Scots.

61 mins. A beautiful through ball from Götze catches the Scottish back line cold, and Marshall does well to turn Reus’s shot behind for a corner. It’s yet another disappointing Eckball though as the referee spots and infringement by Müller.

62 mins. Scotland come close again as Fletcher’s shot is blocked. There’s a cry for handball by the men in dark blue.

64 mins. A lucky break in the Scottish box leads to a half-chance for Müller, but he scuffs the ball wide of Marshall’s goal.

66 mins. It had been coming. Götze gives the ball away in the Scottish half, and Steven Fletcher finds Anya with a lovely through ball. The Watford man switches on the afterburners, and keeps his cool before stroking the ball low to Neuer’s left with his right foot. The ‘keeper waits as long as he can before committing himself, but Anya’s finish is top class. 1-1.

68 mins. Boateng now gives the ball away and Anya is through again, but this time his ball into the box is collected by Neuer.

70 mins. Shaken by the shock of conceding the equaliser, Löw’s side up the ante. They win a corner on the right after Marshall makes another good save to deny Götze, and the Scottish defence is all over the place as Reus’s kick is floated into the box. Höwedes wins a tight challenge, and Müller is on the spot to slam the ball into the roof net from close range with his right foot. 2-1.

Müller blasts home his second to secure the three points for Jogi Löw’s side and get the campaign for France 2016 off to a satisfactory if not spectacular start

71 mins. Naismith is almost through on goal, and Durm commits a goal-saving foul. The commentators are demanding a straight red card, but the Dortmund left-back is booked.

72 mins. Mulgrew takes the free-kick, but hits it straight against the four-man German wall.

74 mins. Müller charges down the right and delivers a low cross for Götze, whose smart shot is on target but easily gathered by Marshall.

76 mins. Morrison is booked for a sharp challenge on Götze.

79 mins. A training ground free-kick from the home side result in Kroos floating the ball off harmlessly for a goal kick.

81 mins. The dangerous Anya turns Rudy inside out, but the winger’s cross is well met by Höwedes. Germany are looking shaky at the back here.

82 mins. Scotland make their third change with Shaun Maloney coming on for Naismith. Almost immediately he sets up McArthur, who cannot get any strength into his shot which Neuer collects. On the touchline Joachim Löw is asking for calm.

83 mins. The first change for the Nationalelf as Schürrle makes way for Lukas Podolski.

85 mins. Kroos wins another corner which is takes himself. Scotland clear, and as Kramer tries to win back the ball the Norwegian referee blows for a foul.

86 mins. A bizarre attempted cross from Kroos misses everyone and is surely going off or behind, only to hit the corner flag and remain in play. It’s the ultimate comedy party trick.

89 mins. Two more corners, and nothing special from either. As the game enters the final minute of the ninety there’s another chance for the home side. Müller prods the ball forward to Götze, who attempts an audacious finish with Podolski looking for the obvious cutback.

90 mins. Mulgrew is booked for a late challenge on Reus, who goes down in a heap. The stretcher is called for, and Reus’s Borussia Dortmund team mate Matthias Ginter is sent on for his competitive debut. In the end the stretcher isn’t needed, as a hobbling Reus is helped off the pitch.

Marco Reus’s run of bad luck continued with another injury, which will keep him out of action for at least four weeks

90+3 mins. Scotland concede a free-kick, and Mulgrew is shown a second yellow card in the space of as many minutes for kicking the ball away. Off he goes.

90+4 mins. It’s almost a third for Germany, as Müller’s well-struck effort hit the base of the right post.

90+5 mins. Scotland look to break, and Müller is booked for a cynical challenge on Maloney. One for the team, there.

90+5 mins. The visitors launch their final attack, but the final whistle blows. The ball has come off a German player and the Scots demand a corner, but the game is over.

It has been a hard-fought game for Joachim Löw’s side, and while they could have put the game out of sight in the first half it could so easily have gone the other way against a competitive Scottish side that would see more than the glint of an opportunity in the second half. As in 2003 the game finishes at 2-1, and while Germany can be happy with the three points questions still remain over the defence which would look shaky at times, particularly against the pace of Ikechi Anya.

It’s the first time Germany have been restricted to fewer than three goals in any home qualifier since 2009, when Löw’s side would be held to a 1-1 draw by Finland in Hamburg in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. It is also the Nationalmannschaft’s eighteenth competitive match without defeat, a record that stretches back the semi-final defeat at the hands of Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-final.

v Scotland, Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, 07.09.2014

2-1 (1-0)
Müller 18., 70. / Anja 66.

Germany: Neuer (c) – Rudy, Boateng, Höwedes, Durm – Kramer, Kroos – Müller, Reus (90+2. Ginter), Schürrle (83. Podolski) – Götze

Scotland: Marshall – Hutton, Hanley, Martin, Whittaker – D. Fletcher (c) (58. McArthur), Mulgrew – Anya, Morrison, Bannan (58. S. Fletcher) – Naismith (82. Maloney)

Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)
Assistants: Kim Haglund (Norway), Frank Andås (Norway)
Goal Line Assistants: Ken Henry Johnsen (Norway), Tore Hansen (Norway)
Fourth Official: Sven Erik Midthjell (Norway)

Yellow Cards: Durm 72., Muller 90+5. / Hanley 50., Morrison 76., Mulgrew 90+1.
Red Cards: – / Mulgrew (y/r) 90+4.

Ball Possession: 71% / 29%
Attempts on Target: 12 / 5
Attempts off Target: 9 / 5
Corners: 12 / 1
Fouls Committed: 12 / 13

Attendance: 60,209

Just about enough in Dortmund

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