Marcel halstenberg was one of the first to head for the fans, and joachim low hailed the matchwinner with a grin on his face after the final whistle: after a hard day’s work in belfast, the german national team is back on course for the european championships in 2020.
Three days after the 2:4 defeat by the netherlands, the young DFB team fulfilled its three-point mission from low in the 2:0 (0:0) defeat by northern ireland, but only with great difficulty and a magnificent full-goal by halstenberg (48. Minute). Serge gnabry (90) provided the late final goal.+3).
"I hit it superbly and it flies in. That opened the can a bit," halstenberg said on RTL. Low admitted that his team "didn’t get into the game that well. "The north irish were brave and attacked us early on. It was a bit of a mess." The team was "in a phase of learning, the players still have to improve a little bit."
After the fourth win in the fifth qualifying match, the DFB selection took over the lead in the table in group C from the northern irish, who are level on points. Before 18.326 spectators in atmospheric windsor park the german team wobbled precariously several times. Manuel neuer was called upon surprisingly often as a ruckhalt in goal.
"We wanted to show a reaction today, we didn’t do that in the first half," said marco reus. "In the second half it was then better."The north irish "attacked us extremely high, they went extremely for the second balls. Our game didn’t come off, it was extremely difficult for us. We did better in the second half."
Low had changed after the oranje defeat as expected to a four-man chain and love to play much more offensively. Julian brandt and halstenberg came into the team to replace jonathan tah, who had no luck on friday, and nico schulz, who was absent due to injury. "We only need two central defenders," low told RTL before kickoff and called for a "change of mentality" from his players: "today we need to play our game."
After a first half marked by many uncertainties and misfits, the change in the second half proved to be the right decision. Halstenberg was a winner in the DFB game, which was slow to get going, and not just because of his leading goal. Brandt made a few mistakes, but the new dortmund player had a lot of contact with the ball and tried time and again to create moments of surprise.
However, the match did not start at all as the national coach had imagined. Driven by their vociferous fans, the northern irish pressed aggressively from the german penalty area and created early chances against an initially erratic DFB team. Kapitan neuer had to prevent the ruckstand after a serious mistake of toni kroos already in the seventh minute against conor washington.
The lack of self-confidence of the past two days was sometimes clearly noticeable in the young national players. In what should have been a more broadly based attack, in which gnabry, reus, timo werner and brandt were supposed to provide danger, the german eleven made some inexplicable mistakes that ruined some of the opportunities that came their way. In defense, germany had a rough time accepting the conditions against northern ireland, who fought with great motivation and passion after four wins in four qualifying games.
Brandt gave up only in the 22. The first shot on goal was taken in the 27th minute, and shortly afterwards a shot by werner was blocked (27.). Craig cathcart touched the ball with his hand. Just ten minutes before the break, low had to cope with the loss of matthias ginter, who had to be substituted after a duel. On leaving the pitch, the gladbacher held his ribs and was replaced by tah, who had scored an own goal against the netherlands.
By the break, neuer had to save again after a sharp input from stuart dallas (45.). On the other side, werner failed to score after a good pass from gnabry to northern ireland goalkeeper bailey peacock-farrell (45.+1). Low seemed to have found the right words in the dressing room. First lukas klostermann missed the lead after an assist from his leipzig teammate halstenberg (47.), before he did better a minute later with a strong volley for his first international goal.
The DFB selection took advantage of the space that now opened up for quick attacks again and again. Gnabry (52.), werner (53.) and kai havertz (69 minutes), who was substituted for the RB striker, who had no luck in finishing. And 84.) missed from promising positions. A free kick by reus was parried by the ever more strongly challenged peacock-farrell (56.), who kept his team in the game with his saves. In defense, however, the problems remained against the still more combative uberzeugenen northern ireland. Stuart dallas missed a great chance in the 63rd minute. Minute. Gnabry scored his ninth international goal in tenth game in stoppage time.