No sweat for Germany


October 12, 2016
Germany's Julian Draxler (centre right), and Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood challenge for the ball during the World Cup Group C qualifying match between Germany and Northern Ireland in Hannover, Germany yesterday. The Germans won 2-0.

HANNOVER, Germany (AP):

Two quick-fire goals earned Germany a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland to put the defending champions in control of World Cup qualifying Group C yesterday.

Early goals from Julian Draxler and then Sami Khedira maintained Germany's perfect start after three games with no goals conceded and moved them two points clear of Azerbaijan, who settled for a scoreless draw against the Czech Republic in Ostrava.

"We completed the job," said Joachim Loew, who equalled Sepp Herberger's record of 94 wins as Germany coach. "It wasn't quite so easy because they defended deep and made space scarce."

Norway defeated San Marino 4-1 in Oslo for their first points in the group, though the visitors, ranked 201st in world football, were celebrating their first away goal in World Cup qualifying since 2001 after Mattia Stefanelli had equalised nine minutes into the second half.

Only the group winners automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Loew kept faith with the same starters from Saturday's 3-0 win over the Czech Republic, forcing Ilkay Gundogan to be patient with Khedira preferred to partner Toni Kroos in the centre.

"It went so well against the Czech Republic that I thought we'd play a half like that again. I figured we'd score one or two goals and then we could give players a rest," Loew said.

Other results yesterday: Kazakhstan 0 Romania 0; Czech Republic 0 Azerbaijan 0; Denmark 0 Montenegro 1; Lithuania 2 Malta 0; Norway 4 San Marino 1; Poland 2 Armenia 1; Slovakia 3 Scotland 0.

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