Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Matthias Ginter had a hand in three goals as Germany booked their ticket to UEFA Euro 2020 with a 4-0 victory over Belarus at Borussia Park on Saturday.
Germany 4-0 Belarus
GOALS: 1-0 Ginter (41'), 2-0 Goretzka (49'), 3-0 Kroos (55'), 4-0 Kroos (83')
Joachim Löw’s side set the tone from the off as they greedily kept possession and went in search of an early opener. Lukas Klostermann was heavily involved throughout the first period, regularly finding space down the right flank and delivering a number of teasing balls into the box. However, despite chances for Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka – who was preferred in attacking midfield to Julian Brandt – they could initially find no way past Belarus goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor. Die Mannschaft were eventually rewarded for their dominance as half-time approached though, with Ginter’s back-heeled flick from Gnabry’s cross giving them a deserved, if narrow, advantage at the interval.
If Germany were too profligate in the first half – they had 14 attempts at goal – they swiftly made amends in the second and soon doubled their advantage. A training-ground corner routine provided the opening, as Ginter dummied Toni Kroos’ cross from the right, leaving Goretzka in space to sweep home from 16 yards. Germany’s third followed shortly afterwards when Ginter teed up Kroos on the edge of the box to curl into the top corner and effectively kill the game off as a contest. Belarus were handed a lifeline in the closing stages when Robin Koch conceded a penalty, but Manuel Neuer pulled off fine save to keep Igor Stasevich’s effort out. A late fourth from Kroos put the seal on an excellent all-round display from Germany, and one which confirmed their place at next year’s continental showpiece after bettering Northern Ireland’s result against the Netherlands – a match that ended 0-0.
- Ginter’s goal was his first at senior level for Germany.
- Goretzka now has nine goals in 24 outings for Die Mannschaft.
- Germany have qualified for a 13th successive European championship, and do so with one game so spare.
- This was the third meeting between the two nations: in addition to Germany's 2-0 win in Borisov in the reverse fixture, the sides drew 2-2 in a Munich friendly in May 2008.
- Germany had 67 per cent possession and completed 90 per cent of their passes (723 of 799).
Germany: Neuer (c) – Klostermann, Ginter, Koch, Schulz – Kimmich, Kroos, Gündogan – Goretzka, Gnabry (Waldschmidt 84', Rudy 90'), Werner (Brandt 68')
Unused subs: Leno, ter Stegen, Hector, Tah, Stark, Amiri, Serdar
Out: Draxler (match fitness), Halstenberg (thigh), Havertz (thigh), Kehrer (foot), Reus (ankle), Rüdiger (groin), Sane (knee), Süle (knee), Trapp (shoulder), Can (suspended)
Coach: Joachim Löw
Belarus: Gutor – Matveichik, Martynovich (c), Naumov, Polyakov – Maevski - Kovalev (Skavysh 78'), Dragun, Nekhaychik (Bessmertni 84'), Stasevich – Laptev (Lisakovich 68')
Unused subs: Chernik, Chichkan, Pavlovets, Matveichik, Sachivko, Zolotov, Kisliak, , Klimovich
Out: Bakhar (unknown)
Coach: Mikhail Markhel
As it happened!
It's all over and Germany deservedly take all three points after dominating from start to finish. Three second-half goals sealed the deal at Borussia-Park.
90+1' ADDITIONAL TIME
We're into the first of three minutes of added time.
90' WALDSCHIMDT SUBBED OFF
Waldschmidt is taken off just a few minutes after coming on following a hefty collision with Gutor in which he took a blow to his head. He looks a bit dazed so Germany are taking no risks, bringing on Sebastian Rudy in his place.
84' WALDSCHIMDT FOR GNABRY
The Freiburg forward gets a run-out, replacing Gnabry up front.
83' KROOS MAKES IT FOUR!
Brandt sprays a pass from left to right to Gündogan, who taps it to Kroos. He spins his marker brilliantly, cuts onto his left foot and hammers it home!
81' GERMANY DROPPING DOWN A GEAR
We're into the final 10 minutes now and Germany are starting to take their foot off the pedal a bit as they go into energy conservation mode. They're still getting forward, but are now happy to play one-touch passes in midfield to run the clock down and make Belarus chase the ball.
78' NEXT SUB FOR BELARUS
Skavysh has replaced Kovalev in right midfield for the visitors.
75' NEUER SAVES STASEVICH'S PENALTY
Stasevich steps up to the spot and while it's not a particularly well-taken penalty, it's still a very good save from Neuer, diving low to his right to palm the ball away for a corner.
74' PENALTY TO BELARUS!
Koch is penalised for clumsy tackle and Belarus have a chance to pull one back!
72' NIFTY FOOTWORK FROM LISAKOVIC
The substitute does well and makes something from seemingly nothing. There doesn't appear to be much on for him when he collects the ball on the inside-right channel, but he dances along the edge of the Germany penalty area, before cutting back onto his right foot and getting a shot away. He's done very well to keep the ball, but his effort lacks power and Neuer makes a comfortable save.
69' SO CLOSE FROM DRAGUN
Easily the best chance of the game for Belarus as Dragun gets in between two defenders to meet a cross from the left, but he seems to panic at seeing Neuer so close and directs a header wide of the goal.
68' FIRST SUBSTITUTIONS
Both teams make their first changes of the game, as Brandt comes on for Werner for Germany, while Lisakovic replaces Laptev for Belarus.
61' FREE-KICK FOR BELARUS
Schulz is penalised on Germany's left for a body check, giving the visitors a free-kick in a promising position. However, the delivery is poor and the hosts clear easily.
57' GORETZKA FIRES OVER
The Bayern midfielder does well to bring the ball down on his chest on the right, before cutting inside and firing at goal - but it goes well over.
55' GAME OVER
Barring anything miraculous, that's surely it now. Belarus struggle to clear a Germany attack down the right and Ginter spies Kroos arriving from deep. He slides the ball into his path and the Germany No.8 curls a beautifully placed first-time shot into the net. Ginter has had a hand in all three goals, incidentally. Not bad for a centre-half!
53' GREAT SAVE FROM GUTOR
Kroos spreads the ball over to the left to Werner, who cuts inside his marker and hits a low shot towards the front post. It looks like it's going to squeeze in, but Gutor gets down well to tip it wide for a corner.
49' GORETZKA DOUBLES GERMANY'S LEAD!
The second period has essentially carried on where the first left off: with Germany in control. They get their second as Kroos plays a corner from the right low into the box. Ginter dummies it and Goretzka is left in space to place a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
Here we go again! No changes from either side at the break.
Gündogan slams a shot into the side-netting with the final touch of the half and it's indicative of the game as a whole: Germany very much in control and carving out a number of chances. The scoreline in no way reflects their dominance thus far.
41' GINTER BREAKS THE DEADLOCK!
He may be a centre-back but this is very much a striker's finish from Ginter. Gnabry sprints into the box down the right and pings a low ball across the face of goal. Ginter is first to it, flicking a back-heeled effort into the net on his home ground. It's a long overdue opener for Germany.
40' FLYING SAVE FROM NEUER
Neuer is called into action for the first time as Nekhaychik curls a shot towards the far post, but Neuer makes a fine save at full stretch.
39' WERNER HEADS WIDE
This is one of Germany's best chances of the half as Gnabry heads a dinked ball over the defence back across goal. It comes to the unmarked Werner on the edge of the six-yard box but he can't place his header on target.
38' KROOS FREE-KICK
Some fancy footwork from Kroos about 10 yards outside the Belarus box before being brought down by a rough tackle. The Real Madrid midfielder takes the free-kick himself and curls it over the wall to the near post, but Gutor scurries across his line to catch it comfortably.
34' KROOS VOLLEY
Schulz scampers down the left wing and delivers a ball into the middle for Kroos, who's lurking on the edge of the box. He does well to shift his feet quickly to take the ball left-footed on the volley, but he doesn't make a clean connection and Gutor makes a routine save.
31' QUICK BREAK FROM BELARUS
The visitors finally show a glimpse of what they're capable of, doing very well to play their way out of Germany's press down the left. Stasevich is in space charging forward, but his attempted pass into the middle for Laptev is anticipated by Koch, who sweeps in to clear.
27' GERMANY WELL IN CONTROL
To give you an idea of Germany's dominance so far, they've had 78 per cent of possession and completed 90 per cent of all passes (compared to just 60 per cent for Belarus. Löw's men have also had 16 efforts on goal, while Neuer has yet to face one.
23' CLOSE FROM WERNER
Lovely one-touch passing from Germany around the Belarus penalty area as they probe to create space. Eventually they find it wide on the right with Klostermann, who crosses to the back post to Leipzig teammate Werner. The striker takes it on the volley, but his shot is deflected wide for a corner.
20' GERMANY CAMPED OUT
The hosts are pinning their visitors back in and around their own penalty area and are refusing to budge. Belarus are defending in numbers though, forcing Germany into shots from distance - no luck so far.
16' GNABRY INCHES AWAY
Goretzka's brilliantly angled through-ball releases Werner in the box and his cross from the right whizzes across the face of goal. It just needs a touch to go in, but the pass is too strong for Gnabry, who's charging in at the back post. You get the sense that a goal is coming.
15' GINTER TESTS GUTOR
Belarus are on the ropes right now and after struggling to deal with another Germany attack, the ball bobbles to Ginter, who smashes a first-time drive at goal the Gutor does well to tip wide.
From the ensuing corner, Klostermann hammers a long-range shot just over the target.
12' WERNER HEADER SAVED
The openings are coming thick and fast now! First Gündogan crosses to Werner, whose free header is saved by goalkeeper Gutor, who immediately launches a counter-attack. Neuer is alive to the danger and sprints off his line - almost to the halfway line - to clear.
Seconds later, Gnabry is teed up for a volley on the edge of the box, but miscues his shot and the chance goes begging.
10' KIMMICH FIRES OVER
The Bayern midfielder collects the ball just outside the Belarus penalty area and tries his luck from distance, but gets too much on it and his shot sails over the bar.
7' NEXT CHANCE FOR GERMANY
Lovely build-up from Germany, again down the right, as Klostermann squeezes inside his man and gets to the byline before pulling the ball back to Gündogan. The Manchester City midfielder drills a first-time shot at goal, but it's blocked inside a crowded box.
3' GORETZKA HEADS OVER
This is a very decent chance for Germany following good determination from Klostermann down the right. The ball is worked to Ginter, whose whipped cross finds the unmarked Goretzka, about 10 yards out, but he can't keep his header down.
2' WERNER ALMOST IN BEHIND
It's been all Germany so far as they press forward with purpose, keeping the ball well. After an early corner comes to nothing, a ball is floated over the Belarus defence to Werner, but he just can't quite bring it down on the stretch.
Here we go as Germany get the ball rolling!
WE'RE ALMOST THERE
The teams have taken to the pitch for the national anthems. Just a few more moments and then we'll be rocking and rolling.
LÖW: "DIFFICULT TO GET INTO THE SWING OF THINGS"
That lengthy list of absentees has obviously affected Löw's plans for the game. "The number of players who've had to withdraw makes it difficult to get into the swing of things," he said in his pre-match press conference. "You need defined processes and movements that are second nature, which we don't have at the moment. I'd have liked to have been able to play more regularly with a more settled side."
10 ABSENTEES FOR THE HOSTS
Die Mannschaft begin with a strong side at Borussia-Park, but they have nevertheless been hampered by the absence of key players. Missing here through a variety of illness, suspension and short- and long-term injuries are: Leroy Sane, Niklas Süle, Marco Reus, Kai Havertz, Antonio Rüdiger, Marcel Halstenberg, Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer, Kevin Trapp and Emre Can.
GOALS ON THE CARDS?
Germany have scored at least twice in each of their last seven games - the best such run since 2013. Can they continue it here?
While Joachim Löw's side is as expected in defence and in goal, the coach has sprung a surprise or two further forward, with four central midfielders in the starting XI: Kroos, Kimmich, Gündogan and Goretzka. The latter should be given a more attacking role to support Werner and Gnabry up top, with Kimmich sitting a bit deeper to protect the back four.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
It's a big night for Germany and they'll be looking to do the business in their penultimate match of the year in front of a sell-out crowd in Mönchengladbach.