After securing qualification for next summer’s European Championship in Italy and San Marino with a 2-1 home win over Norway, Germany U21s ended their qualifying campaign with a convincing 2-0 win over Ireland in Heidenheim. Stefan Kuntz’s side have finished top of Group 5 in qualifying with eight wins, one draw and just one defeat.
“Today, I am very pleased,” said Kuntz after the match. “We were to give many of the players a chance to impress. We also tried out some new tactics which the team performed well. You have seen that everyone gave everything they had for the full 90 minutes.”
Coach Stefan Kuntz made ten changes to the side that secured qualification against Norway in Ingolstadt. Moritz Nicolas, Abdelhamid Sabiri and Maximilian Mittelstädt all made their U21s debuts this evening while Timo Baumgartl was the only person to remain in the starting line up from Friday’s clash.
From the beginning of the match, Germany looked to play forward and pressed against the Irish defence, forcing the visitors backwards in their own half. Germany had already won three corners in the opening five minutes alone. Levin Öztunali proved to be a constant threat for the Irish defence in the early stages, helping in attack upon attack. The visitors were trying their hardest not to concede in the early stages, with either an Irish defender or goalkeeper Liam Bossin always there to deny Germany.
The Irish resilience was tested once more in the 31st minute as Sabiri fired a shot onto the crossbar from 25 metres out. However, Germany did make the breakthrough their early dominance deserved just 60 seconds later as a quick one-two between Marcel Hartel and Johannes Eggestein played in Öztunali on the right flank. The Mainz forward was able then find Janni Serra who found the bottom right corner of the net without any problems.
Germany did not put their foot off the gas having taken the lead, instead continuing to press forward in search of a second goal before half-time. Sabiri again found space on the right flank and played in Öztunali who ran into the box and fired home to double Germany’s lead. Just a few minutes later, Eggestein had a chance to seal the victory before half-time but his shot was stopped by Bossin in the Irish goal.
Before Germany had scored either of their goals, Ireland had created a big chance themselves in the ninth minute as Josh Cullen broke clear of the German defence and advanced on goal. However, debutant Nicolas showed no signs of nerves as he denied Cullen the chance to open the scoring.
The second half began as the first half had ended with the 3,229 spectators in Heidenheim enjoying a strong attacking performance from the home side. Within two minutes of the restart, Eggestein fired a shot that went narrowly wide of the left goalpost. Baumgartl also went within centimetres of giving Germany a three goal cushion in the 50 minute. Eggestein created another chance in the 53rd minute but the Bremen attacker lacked the necessary composure needed to fire the ball home.
Most of the play continued to take place within the Irish half and the only thing missing for Germany was some composure and precision in front of goal. Despite Ireland hitting the post in second half stoppage time, Germany saw out the match and deservedly won their final European qualifier 2-0.
Germany U21s are back in action in the next international break as they host historic rivals the Netherlands in a friendly in Offenbach on 16th November (20:00 CET).