Northern Ireland vs. Germany

Christophe Berra and Scotland celebrate

Christophe Berra and Scotland celebrate

Germany qualified for the World Cup in style on Thursday when superb early strikes from Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner set it on the way to a 3-1 win in Northern Ireland that maintained its flawless record in Group C.

Low was also complimentary of Northern Ireland, who he faced three times over the past 16 months and are still in contention for a UEFA playoff spot.

With the world champions in town, Northern Ireland rolled out their own global king as triple World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea addressed the crowd prior to kick-off and predicted a 1-0 home win.

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern displayed great reflexes to deny Wagner, who hit the left post with a glancing header before he finally scored in the 21st. You want them to miss and then net the ones we get. "We are on a tightrope with bookings". We knew if we were going to get anything out of the game we would have to put everything into it and every player is absolutely knackered.

Northern Ireland has 19 points from nine games and has already made sure of a two-top finish before the match. If we can get to 20 points it would be fantastic. Ultimately whatever happens in the playoff, it is a European tie across home and away so it is a different scenario from qualification. Our confidence comes from the campaign that we have had.

Sebastian Rudy, whose brilliant second-minute strike from distance set the Germans on their way on Thursday, has warned the other countries hoping to lift the World Cup in Russian Federation that the current holders do not want to hand it over.

His fourth goal in this qualifying campaign, and the goal will help further stake his claim to be Germany's staring striker in Russian Federation next year.

Manchester City's Leroy Sane then had a chance to seal the game for Germany, as he jinked past two defenders easily but he blazed his shot way over the bar. He went on to say. "The biggest thing is to set a team up that's hard to beat". In the second half, we couldn't have asked for any more.

"I am satisfied", Low told reporters afterwards in Belfast.

O'Neill will be proud of his side's effort in the second half, but will just feel that they could have got on the scoreboard to really trouble the Germans.

You fear the worst at 2-0 down but 3-0 would have been harsh.

However, they can still look forward to a place in the playoffs and a possible trip to Russian Federation.

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