The Germany U21 national team bounced back from the disappointing 4-0 loss to Poland with a victory by the same scoreline against San Marino on Tuesday evening. The win ensures that they remain top of Group B in qualifying for the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Malick Thiaw (14’), Eric Shuranov (15’), captain Jonathan Burkardt (34’) and Jan Thielmann (62’) all got on the scoresheet in Ingolstadt, earning the U21s their fifth win from six qualifiers. They will end the calendar year top of the group with 15 points, ahead of Israel based on the head-to-head record and two points clear of third-placed Poland. Staying ahead in the standings was Di Salvo’s goal ahead of the November international break, as only the group winners will definitely qualify for the tournament finals in Romania and Georgia in two years’ time.
“We still haven’t quite digested the defeat to Poland, but tonight’s win will help us look ahead to the new year with more reassurance,” said Thielmann after the game.
Di Salvo made five changes to the side that started on Friday, with goalkeeper Luca Philipp, Lars Lukas Mai, Luca Netz, Jan Thielmann and the suspended Jean-Manuel Mbom replaced by Nico Mantl, Noah Katterbach, Armel Bella Kotchap, Finn Ole Becker and Jamie Leweling.
The coach was forced into another change only five minutes into the match, as an injured Kevin Schade had to make way for Ansgar Knauff. As expected, Germany took the initiative from the off against their minnow opponents and there were early warning shots from Yannik Keitel (2’), Thiaw (7’) and Burkardt (9’).
The opening goal wasn’t far behind, and the lead was doubled just 79 seconds later. Thiaw struck first, heading in from close range (14’), before Shuranov had an open net to finish into from the next attack, created by good work from Leweling and then Burkardt. Di Salvo’s side took their foot off the gas a little in the period that followed, no longer driving at the San Marino goal what had felt like every minute. The visitors had of course taken up a very defensive setup as well, making it harder for the DFB-Team attackers to find space.
It wasn’t until the 34th minute that goal number three arrived. Leweling, who had played a crucial part in the first two goals, burst down the left flank and played a low ball into the middle, where Burkardt applied an unstoppable finish in off the crossbar to make it 3-0. A triple chance went begging for the home side five minutes later, although the impressive Thiaw was unlucky to see his effort strike the woodwork (39’).
There were two changes at the break, with Di Salvo bringing on Thielmann and Eric Martel for Shuranov and Keitel. Germany continued their dominance across the park, although the chances weren’t coming around as regularly as in the first half. Both Knauff after a great run (58’) and Burkardt with a heel-flick cleared off the line (59’) came close to making it four, before Thielmann then did. Again it was Leweling who was the provider, brilliantly putting the Köln midfielder through to make it 4-0 (62’).
Germany continued to search for further goals in the closing stages, with substitute Nick Bätzner (70’), Burkardt (72’, 75’) and Knauff (86’) all having chances, not to mention a deflection onto his own crossbar by San Marino’s Diego Moretti.
Although there were to be no more goals, Germany were able to comfortably see out a fully deserved home win. The U21s’ next match isn’t until 25th March 2022 against Latvia, before they take on Israel in a crucial match on 29th March.###more###