Draxler, Khedira on target in routine win


Germany 2-0 Northern Ireland

Germany maintained its 100 per cent record in European Group C after strolling to a 2-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Northern Ireland in Hannover on Wednesday (AEST).

Joachim Low's men were high on confidence following an impressive 3-0 win over Czech Republic on Sunday (AEST) and their superior quality proved too much for Northern Ireland as well.

The world champion beat its opponent 1-0 at UEFA Euro 2016 courtesy of a single Mario Gomez strike, but the Wolfsburg striker was absent with injury this time around.

Gomez's place in the starting XI was taken by Julian Draxler — Germany's' only change from the encounter in June — and the 23-year-old led the way when he fired it into the lead in the 13th minute.

Germany immediately pushed for a second and got it just four minutes later when Sami Khedira headed home from close range to effectively put the match to bed with Northern Ireland never seriously threatening a comeback.

The hosts have now collected nine points from three games, with minnow San Marino awaiting in November.

Germany was in charge right from the off and could have gone a goal up after just four minutes had it not been for some great goalkeeping from Michael McGovern. Thomas Muller found the unmarked Mario Gotze with a superb cross from the right, but his former Bayern Munich team-mate failed to beat the Northern Ireland keeper from close range.

Northern Ireland’s resistance did not hold out for long, though, as Draxler fired Germany in front. Mesut Ozil played in Muller, who managed to pick out Draxler and the former Schalke man did well to fire a low shot past the helpless McGovern from the edge of the area.

There was no let-up from Low’s men after the goal and Khedira made it 2-0 shortly afterwards. Mats Hummels rose highest to meet Ozil’s corner from the left and his header towards Khedira at the near post presented the Juventus midfielder with the simplest of tasks to nod into the net.

Northern Ireland threatened occasionally on the counter-attack, lone striker Josh Magennis calling Manuel Neuer into action in the 39th minute, before Oliver Norwood fired a free-kick from the edge of the area over the top.

Substitute Ilkay Gundogan, who replaced Ozil at half-time, got a chance to make it three early in the second half, only to see his volley hit a Northern Ireland defender in the crowded area.

Khedira, meanwhile, threatened on more than one occasion, but failed to double his personal tally as it remained 2-0 for the hosts after an underwhelming second half.