Germany experienced their first loss in their fourth European qualifier on Friday night. Head coach Joachim Löw’s side fell 4-2 to the Netherlands in Hamburg. Serge Gnabry gave Germany the lead in the 9th minute, while Frenkie de Jong brought the Netherlands level in the 58th minute. An own goal from Jonathon Tah (66’) was cancelled out from the spot by Toni Kroos (73’), but goals from Donyell Malen (79’) and Georginio Wijnaldum (90’ +1) sealed the victory for the guests. With nine points, Germany remain in second place in Group C behind Northern Ireland (12).
Löw started with a back three in front of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Niklas Süle was accompanied by Matthias Ginter and Jonathan Tah. Lukas Klostermann and Nico Schulz were on the wings, while the midfield was composed of Joshua Kimmich and Kroos. A three-pronged attack saw Marco Reus and Gnabry line up next to Timo Werner.
Both sides were evenly matched in the opening minutes, as the Netherlands retained the bulk of possession whereas Germany prioritised quick counter-attacks. Neither goalkeeper had to deal with much, before Memphis Depay tested Neuer with a shot from the edge of the penalty box (8’). On the resulting counter-attack it was Klostermann who found the space within the 18-year box after a steep pass from Kimmich. His initial shot was saved, but Gnabry’s follow-up found the back of the net (9’).
The Netherlands reacted with an aggressive counter-press, but the Süle and the rest of the defense stood solid. Germany were active in midfield as well, and were able to win the ball on several occasions. In the 14th minute, Gnabry found himself on a breakaway but was fouled 20 metres out by Matthijs de Ligt. The resulting free-kick was sent soaring over the crossbar by Kroos.
The Dutch continued to keep possession in what was in intense match, but we were unable to convert. That almost changed in the 22nd minute after a free-kick from Depay found the head of de Ligt, but the ball sailed just wide. The 26th minute saw another quick Germany counter-attack via Gnabry, whose shot wasn’t strong enough to make it past Cillessen.
The 41st minute featured another dangerous chance for the Dutch, as Depay’s header sailed over Neuer’s net. On the other end, Reus could have netted the 2-0 after a pass from Kross, but was unable to slot it past Cillessen from 10 metres out (43’).
The second half began just as the first ended, with the Netherlands seeing the majority of the ball. They almost had a chance to grab the equaliser in the 48th minute, but Denzel Dumfries was unable to control Depay’s well-struck pass. The Germans hit back with another counter-attack as Gnabry whipped the ball into the area, and De Ligt almost scuffed the clearance into his own net (50’).
The tempo of the game was gathering pace as Quincy Promes tested Neuer from distance (51’) only moments before Germany had a chance of their own at the other end, with Gnabry only inches away from connecting with Schulz’s cross (52’). Schulz was also the key creator of their next opening, as Virgil van Dijk just about managed to get to the ball before Werner to clear his cross for a corner. However, the Netherlands were turning up the pressure as Neuer was forced to deny the unmarked Georginio Wijnaldum, magnificently.
The equaliser eventually came in the 58th minute, as Tah lost his footing while trying to clear Babel’s cross, leaving de Jong with enough space to put the ball into the net. Löw reacted quickly with a double substitution, with Ilkay Gündogan and Kai Havertz replacing Reus and Werner respectively (61’). The Netherlands then managed to take the lead. Neuer initially made an incredible save to deny van Dijk’s bullet header, but Tah unluckily turned the resulting cross into his own net (66’).
Germany hit back quickly, with Schulz driving into the opposition’s penalty area as the ball bounced up into the air and landed on de Ligt’s arm. Kroos calmly put away the resulting penalty kick (73’). However, the Netherlands kept their composure, with substitute Donyell Malen almost giving them the lead from close range in the 74th minute. The international debutant then achieved this feat a few minutes later, netting the Netherlands’s third goal of the game. Wijnaldum added a fourth in injury time to seal the victory. Gnabry had a chance to bag his second of the night, but was unable to hit the target (90’+4).