The Germany national team were 4-0 winners over Belarus in Mönchengladbach on Saturday evening, and with group rivals the Netherlands and Northern Ireland drawing 0-0, Joachim Löw’s side have secured their place at EURO 2020 with one game to spare. A win in their final Group C qualifier on Tuesday against Northern Ireland will also confirm top spot ahead of the Dutch.
33,164 spectators at Borussia-Park saw a Die Mannschaft side that featured Leon Goretzka for the first time since June 2019, as the Bayern München midfielder made his international return from injury to join Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry in attack. Captain Manuel Neuer was in goal with a back-four of Lukas Klostermann, Matthias Ginter, Robin Koch and Nico Schulz in front of him, while Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gündogan and Joshua Kimmich began in midfield.
Leon Goretzka had the first chance of the game inside just three minutes, but he couldn’t keep his header down. The football was only being played in one direction early on but Germany were lacking that clinical edge. Ilkay Gündogan had a shot blocked from the edge of the box, while Timo Werner’s header after twelve minutes lacked conviction.
A powerful shot from Matthias Ginter finally forced Aleksandr Gutor in the Belarus goal into a first meaningful save after 15 minutes. Serge Gnabry came even closer soon after, but he came up agonisingly short of connecting with Werner’s ball across the face of goal. Toni Kroos and Gnabry also fired into the side netting in a dominant but ultimately fruitless opening half hour from the hosts.
The tempo of the game began to slow a little and Manuel Neuer even had to produce a world-class stop at the other end to keep out Igor Stasevich’s curling effort that was bound for the top corner. That save proved all the more vital just minutes later when it was Germany who crucially struck first. Gnabry dribbled to the byline and drilled a low cross into the six-yard box where Matthias Ginter magnificently turned it home with a back-heel flick, making it 1-0 with his first senior international goal after 41 minutes.
After the break, Die Mannschaft picked up where the left off at the end of the first half and soon made it 2-0. Ginter allowed Toni Kroos’ low corner to run through his legs, and Leon Goretzka met it with a first-time finish from the edge of the box that flew into the back of the net. Timo Werner could have added a third in the 53rd minute, but was denied by a wonderful save from Gutor. There was nothing the Belarus goalkeeper could do two minutes later, however. Ginter was involved again, picking out Kroos 18 yards out and the Real Madrid midfielder duly curled the ball just inside the post to make it 3-0.
Germany continued to control proceedings and had the odd chance to increase their advantage, most notably through Goretzka, but his shot from twelve yards cleared the target. Joachim Löw opted to bring fresh legs into the attack in the form of Julian Brandt, but it was the visitors who went close next. Stanisalv Dragun’s header failed to trouble Manuel Neuer, however.
The Germany no. 1 was about to face a much sterner test though. The referee pointed to the spot in the 76th minute after Robin Koch brought down his man and Stasevich stepped up to take the penalty, but Neuer guessed the right way and pushed the ball away at full stretch to keep his clean sheet intact. The icing on the cake for Joachim Löw’s side came seven minutes from time courtesy of the brilliant Toni Kroos once more. He collected Gündogan’s pass inside the penalty area with a wonderful turn, before cutting inside and finishing into the bottom corner to wrap up a 4-0 win.###more###