Germany bounced back from their loss to the Netherlands at the weekend with a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Belfast. The win sees the Nationalmannschaft move to the top of European Championship qualifying group C on goal difference.
A much improved second half display from Germany saw them take the lead at the start of the second 45 minutes via Marcel Halstenberg and after controlling the match from then on, finally put the result beyond doubt with a second goal in stoppage time from Serge Gnabry.
The win provides a much-needed boost for Joachim Löw’s side, but the display did reveal that there is still a lot that can be improved upon both defensively and offensively.
Manuel Neuer (2.5): The Bayern stopper produced a good save to deny Connor Washington right at the start. He fumbled a cross badly midway through the first period but redeemed himself by grabbing the loose ball after Washington failed to connect. He was always available as the sweeper keeper showing top footwork to help the back four out when under pressure. A typical Neuer performance much to the annoyance of Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen on the bench, who won’t shift Neuer on this form.
Marcel Halstenberg (3): He was brought in for the injured Nico Schulz on the left of the back four. He had a tidy game overall and capped it with a first international goal with an excellent half-volley at the start of the second half.
Matthias Ginter (4.5): An injury forced him off in the 40th minute, but before that he hadn’t really convinced or justified Jogi Löw’s faith in him to partner Niklas Süle in the centre. He misplaced a number of passes and looked uncertain in a number of situations. Northern Ireland trainer Michael O’Neil was right to highlight Ginter as a potential weak link.
Niklas Süle (3): The towering defender had a tough time of things in the first 45 minutes against Connor Washington and had to be alert to the danger. Still more assured than either Ginter or Tah.
Lukas Klostermann (4): The RB Leipzig fullback was not as involved as an attacking force as he would have liked. He had a good chance at the start of the second half but volleyed well over the bar. Kept his right-hand side relatively tight.
Joshua Kimmich (4): Kimmich was a little off the boil tonight despite being one of the players to publicly demand a reaction from Germany following the Holland defeat. Like the rest of the team, enjoyed a much better second half.
Toni Kroos (3): Gave the ball away horribly in the opening minutes but was let off by Connor Washington’s miss/Neuer’s save. As per usual he was the one dictating the game in the middle of the pitch and his influence grew as Germany improved in the second half.
Julian Brandt (4): Germany’s switch to a back four allowed Brandt the chance to start, but he struggled in the first half to establish himself in the physical side of the game with Northern Ireland playing to their strengths. His flicked header provided the assist for Halstenberg’s opener.
Serge Gnabry (3): Seemed to be everywhere in the second half when Germany upped their game. The Bayern man was out wide and central as a number 10 and was at the centre of most of Germany’s attacking play. His performance was rewarded with a finely taken goal from a tight angle in injury time.
Marco Reus (5): Hardly involved in the first half and the only real moment of note from the Dortmund man was a free-kick which Peacock-Farrell dealt with. Reus has had better games for Germany and made way for Emre Can in the 85th minute as Germany looked to tighten things up.
Timo Werner (4.5): The Leipzig man was subbed off after 68 minutes after once again not really being able to replicate his club form for his country. He had Germany’s best chance of the first half but fired straight at keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Jonathan Tah (3.5): Dropped as Joachim Löw changed to a back four, the Leverkusen defender was called upon in the first half following Ginter’s injury. He produced an error-free performance to help Germany keep their clean sheet, which will do his confidence the world of good.
Kai Havertz (-): Assist for Gnabry goal in injury time otherwise not much to note after his introduction in the 68th minute.
Emre Can (-): Only played five minutes after replacing Reus.
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