Two quickfire strikes kill off brave Northern Ireland in soggy Hannover

Having disposed of the Czech Republic with relative ease in Hamburg, the second part of this international World Cup double header sees Germany take on Northern Ireland in Hannover, a repeat of the meeting between the two teams in this summer’s Euros in France. That game saw the Mannschaft dominate the game but win only 1-0 – with an inspired Michael McGovern in the Northern Irish goal preventing a rout.

With Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw sticking with the settled eleven that started against the Czechs, there is only one difference from the team that met the Irish in June – goalscorer Mario Gómez, who has to had pull out of the squad through injury. The man dropped in France for that game, Julian Draxler, starts tonight at the HDI-Arena.

It is Northern Ireland’s first visit to Germany for seventeen years, the last coming in a Euro 2000 qualifier in Dortmund in 1999. On that evening the Mannschaft ran out 4-0 winners, with Oliver Bierhoff opening the scoring before midfielder Christian Ziege scored his one and only hat-trick in the Nationaltrikot.

Bierhoff scored thirty-seven goals for Germany in seventy internationals, and tonight Thomas Müller – on thirty-six from eighty matches – has the opportunity to draw level with the former skipper and current general manager. After braces against both Norway and the Czechs, Müller will be looking at not just drawing level with Bierhoff, but overtaking him.

This is not the only record on offer. With 93 wins in charge of the Nationalmannschaft, Jogi Löw is just one behind the great Sepp Herberger’s record of 94. History awaits in Hannover.

It is a wet evening in Lower Saxony, with a slight drizzle falling as both teams hear the national anthems. Germany are again in their famous white shirts and black shirts, with their opponents in their equally famliar green shirts and white shorts.

1 min. The hosts get the ball rolling. Jérôme Boateng is already looking to ping those long balls forward.

2 mins. A bit of a slip from Mats Hummels, and there’s a sniff of an opportunity for the visitors. Sweeper keeper skipper Manuel Neuer beats Irish striker Josh Magennis and clears, the ball falls to a white shirt, and normality is resumed.

3 mins. The first chance for the Mannschaft, and McGovern picks up where he left off in Paris. Müller crosses, Mario Götze is in acres of space and gets his header on target, but McGovern keeps it out.

5 mins. Germany are dominant, and quickly into their stride. It is going to be a long night for the men in green.

9 mins. Joshua Kimmich is brought down out on the right a couple of yards inside the touchline, and Toni Kroos’s free-kick is flicked on to Sami Khedira is gathers himself before pulling the ball back for Draxler. The Wolfsburg man’s shot is blocked, and the rebound from distance is ballooned over by Jonas Hector.

12 mins. Kroos has a crack from distance. There are some gentle claims for handball, but the Italian referee waves play on.

13 mins. As like against the Czechs, it’s lucky thirteen for Germany. The roving Müller is out at the left-hand side of the opposition penalty area, and shields the ball nicely before rolling it inside for Draxler. The number seven makes room for himself before sending a low right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner past the diving McGovern. The ‘keeper might have got a fingertip on it, but there was no way he was going to stop it. 1-0.

Julian Draxler is congratulated by his team mates after opening the scoring on a wet evening in Hannover

16 mins. Müller sends in a cross towards Draxler, and Lee Hodson puts it behind for a corner.

17 mins. In Paris, changes went begging. Now, they are being converted. Kroos plays a short ball from the corner to Mesut Özil who sends in a delicious outswinger into the box. Hummels is there first, and knocks the ball back inside towards Sami Khedira at the far post. The big man uses his height to beat Oliver Norwood, and calmly sends a looping header into the Irish net to double Germany’s advantage. 2-0.

Scorer Sami Khedira and provider Mats Hummels celebrate Germany’s second goal after seventeen minutes

21 mins. There some action at the other end now, as Northern Ireland win a corner. Khedira clears.

26 mins. The visitors are seeing a little bit more of the ball now, and Jamie Ward has a sniff of a chance. He gets a shot on target, but it is weak and Neuer collects easily.

28 mins. Back at the other end, Kimmich wins another corner out on the right. Draxler takes it short leaving Kroos and Özil to it, but the move breaks down and the men in green clear their lines.

32 mins. Magennis is working hard for the Michael O’Neill’s side and is looking to advance towards the German goal, but is well marshalled by Hummels.

33 mins. More patient approach work from the Mannschaft. Hector finds Draxler out on the left, who looks up and takes his time before looking to pick out Kimmich at the far post. McGovern reads it well though, and palms it away from the young right-back.

34 mins. Northern Ireland have a chance to break through Ward, but he is flagged offside.

36 mins. More pressure from the home side. The ball doesn’t roll their way a couple of times as the visitors clear, a Kimmich cross fizzes across the penalty area. The ball is recycled, and Müller sees his shot beaten away my McGovern.

38 mins. The ball is in the back of the Irish net again. A lovely deep cross from Draxler finds Müller who cuts it back from on the byline, and Götze strokes it home. 3-0, but… The flag is up. The commentators are talking about offside, but it looks like the ball had just crossed the line before Müller hooked it back in.

39 mins. Magennis chases what looks like another lost cause, and gets a shot on goal from a tight angle. It is straight at Neuer though, and the German skipper deals with it easily.

41 mins. Another swift break for the visitors. Corey Evans charges towards the German goal with Ward to his left, but doesn’t play the early pass. Boateng gets in front of Evans, bringing him down right at the edge of the box. It’s an excellent free-kick opportunity, but Norwood blasts it over the target.

45 mins. There’s more possession from the home team, but the final action of the half sees Magennis show off his pace again as he wins a corner off Hummels. It comes to nothing, and the whistle is blown for half time.

A dominant show again from the Mannschaft, with both goals coming in the space of four excellent minutes. There could have been more, but the coach will also have to look at how Northern Ireland were able to create some decent opportunities on the break.

All things considered, everything is going to plan so far for Jogi’s Jungs. 69% of the possession, ten shots on goal, and almost four times as many passes. We just need a couple more goals to rounds things off.

46 mins. There’s a change for the Mannschaft before the restart, with İlkay Gündoğan replacing Özil. Northern Ireland kick off the second half. The men in green make the first move, and Ward wins a corner off Boateng.

47 mins. The corner is cleared, and Germany once again start moving the ball around.

48 mins. Kimmich does brilliantly, skinning his marker before swinging the ball back into the box. Draxler can’t quite execute his effort, and the ball falls to Gündoğan whose spectacular effort hits a green-shirted defender.

51 mins. Another flowing move down the right, with Kimmich in the middle of it again. The ball is put into the box towards Khedira, who hooks it towards goal. It is easy for McGovern who collects cleanly.

54 mins. And again. Patient through the middle, and a low cross from Hector cleared by Norwood. The corner is taken short, and Germany recycle the ball again. Boateng dinks a lovely ball into the box and finds Götze, whose header across the area is cleared by Hodson with Müller lurking.

56 mins. Another shot, this time from Khedira who send his effort wide to the right of the target. The third goal is surely coming.

58 mins. Kimmich plays a lovely one-two with Müller, and the youngster looks like he is nudged by a defender as he charges into the penalty area. He cannot keep his footing, there are a shouts for a penalty, but the referee waves away the protests. There was minimal contact, but that would have been a tough call.

60 mins. Michael O’Neill makes his first change, sending on Niall McGinn for Ward

64 mins. The pressure is now pretty relentless, and the men in green are finding it hard to get out of their own half. Hector sends in another low cross from the left, but it is too close to McGovern.

65 mins. Boateng decides to have a go from distance, but his left-footed effort flies high and wide of the target.

66 mins. Every green shirt is behind the ball, and Germany continue to bang on the door. Kroos has another go, but sees his shot skid wide.

68 mins. An excellent chance. From a short corner, Kroos’s teasing ball is perfect for Khedira, who heads over.

69 mins. The second change for Germany, as Boateng makes way for Skhodran Mustafi.

70 mins. Götze looks to sneak in behind the Irish defence, but is flagged offside.

72 mins. It is clear that Northern Ireland are looking to defend this 2-0 deficit now. Like a big lumbering green bus, every man is being piled in behind the ball. Germany continue to push and probe, but there are green shirts everywhere.

73 mins. Another change for the visitors. Paddy McNair is on for Norwood. Shane Ferguson is booked for a late challenge on Kimmich right by the touchline.

76 mins. The final change for the visitors, as the excellent Magennis is replaced by Kyle Lafferty.

80 mins. A half-clearance from the green defence, and a snapshot from Mustafi. It fizzes well wide.

81 mins. The final change for the Mannschaft, as Hector makes way for Kevin Volland. Then, another chance. Great play from Müller, and a neat lay-off by Kimmich for Gündoğan, who makes a complete hash of an excellent opportunity. That should have been three, but the ball floats harmlesly into the crowd.

87 mins. The rain is coming down, and the German wave keeps crashing against the green shore. This time Khedira’s left-footed effort flies over the bar.

90 mins. The biggest noise is being made by the travelling Irish fans, as the rain continues to hammer down in Hannover. Even the home support are joining into the constant refrain. There will be three minutes of additional time.

90+3 mins. The final whistle blows, and the PA system provides the backing tune as both teams meet in the middle of the pitch.

A purple patch early on, but more huff and puff from the Mannschaft in a second half that really started to drag on as their opponents switched into bus-parking mode. A bigger win than in the summer in France, but a performance that was far less dominant. Still, the team have done what they need to do. Two goals, another clean sheet, and three more points safely in the bag.

Thomas Müller will have to wait at least one more match before pulling level with Oliver Bierhoff in the all-time goalscoring charts; he didn’t get much of a sniff tonight. Jogi Löw, on the other hand, now sits alongside Sepp Herberger as most successful Nationaltrainer of all time. He is almost certain to claim the record for himself next month, when his team visit the group’s whipping boys San Marino.

v Northern Ireland, HDI Arena, Hannover, 11.10.2016
Northern Ireland

2-0 (2-0)
Draxler 13., Khedira 17. / –

Germany: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Boateng (69. Mustafi), Hummels, Hector (81. Volland) – Kroos, Khedira – Müller, Özil (46. Gündoğan), Draxler – Götze

Northern Ireland: McGovern – A. Hughes, McAuley, J. Evans – Hodson, Ferguson – St. Davis (c) – C. Evans, J. Ward (60. McGinn), Norwood (72. McNair) – Magennis (76. Lafferty)

Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)
Assistants: Matteo Passeri, Alessandro Costanzo (Italy)
Fourth Official: Marco Guida (Italy)
Referee Observer: Ioannis Tsachilidis (Greece)

Yellow Cards: – / Ferguson
Red Cards: – / –

Ball Possession: 68% / 32%
Attempts on Target: 12 / 2
Attempts off Target: 10 / 2
Corners: 9 / 3
Fouls Committed: 3 / 3

Attendance: 42,135

Two quickfire strikes kill off brave Northern Ireland in soggy Hannover

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