Leon Goretzka on target as Germany begin World Cup qualifying campaign in style against Iceland
Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka scored the first of three Germany goals - while Jamal Musiala made his international debut for his country - as Joachim Löw's side strolled to victory in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iceland.
It was Germany's first game in 2021 and first under Joachim Löw since his announcement that he would be stepping down from his role as head coach following this summer's Euros. His side showed they want to send the World Cup-winning coach out in style with two goals in the opening seven minutes. The first was created right from the Allianz Arena, as Joshua Kimmich chipped a ball in behind the Iceland defence for Serge Gnabry, who played it back for Goretzka to fire home inside three minutes. Four minutes later and the lead was doubled when Kimmich played Leroy Sane in down the left and his cut-back was slotted away across goal by Kai Havertz. It was an outstanding start which continued throughout a first half dominated by Germany. Goretzka headed wide at the near post while Havertz shot past the post as chances continued to come, while Iceland had their first and only effort on goal of the opening period with 25 minutes played as Runar Sigurjonsson had a shot blocked wide off Antonio Rüdiger. The Chelsea defender had a big chance to make it three before the break but headed wide from Kimmich's cross.
It was a slower start to the second half for the hosts, with Iceland having a good chance on goal through Aron Gunnarsson early on. But Germany were still able to extend their lead just 11 minutes after the break. Gnabry found Ilkay Gündogan outside the Iceland area, and he skipped past a challenge before thumping the ball home low to the goalkeeper's left. Iceland continued to threaten the Germany defence, though, as Jon Bödvarsson drew Manuel Neuer into a save with a crisp volley. Germany calmed the game down from there, with Bayern midfielder Jamal Musiala coming on to make his international debut for Germany in the final 12 minutes. In the end, it was the perfect start to the qualifying campaign with Löw looking to set up his eventual successor with a smooth journey towards next year’s World Cup.
Musiala made his international debut for Germany. The 18-year-old represented Germany twice at U16 level. He won 21 youth caps for England, scoring 10 goals.
Germany went into a two-goal lead in a competitive game in the fastest time for 52 years. In May 1969, Gerd Mülller and Wolfgang Overath scored inside five minutes of a World Cup qualifier against Cyprus.
Löw has overseen 189 games as Germany head coach, including 31 matches across three World Cup qualifying campaigns (W28, D3).
Wirtz has played for Germany's U15s, 16s, 17s and 21s, earning three caps for the latter as recently as October-November 2020.
Gnabry is Germany's highest-scoring player in the period since the 2018 World Cup, with 11 goals in 16 appearances.
Germany are four-time World Cup champions. They have never failed to qualify for a finals
Iceland continuing their good work in the second half as a cross into the middle from the right is met by Bödvarsson in the middle, and his volley is saved by Neuer.
DEFENSIVE WORK TO DO
Iceland have shown a lot more intent in this second half as they push forward once again, with Klostermann forced to clear with a header just in front of his own goal. Despite Germany extending their lead, the visitors have made a game of it so far.
A fantastic finish from the Manchester City midfielder, who profits from Gnabry's quick dribbling before he skips past a tackle 25 yards from goal and fires home with a low drive into the bottom left-hand corner.
Iceland play a quick free-kick down the left and a cross in to the middle finds Gunnarsson up from midfield, but he miscues his header in front of Neuer and the ball floats wide. A slower start to the second half for Germany.
BRIGHT START FOR ICELAND
The visitors have made a much better start to the second half than the first with Traustason firing a shot over from distance.
A pass is short for Havertz and he makes a tactical foul on the counter, and earns the first card of the game.
Gnabry is on the charge down the left wing and cuts inside and out of Sampsted before crossing into the middle. The ball is cleared as far as Goretzka, but his shot is blocked. Germany recycle the play and it's Goretzka again who shoots from 20 yards, but this is a simple save for Halldorsson.
HAVERTZ HAS A GO!
Gündogan finds Havertz 25 yards from goal, and he moves onto his left foot to shoot. It's a tough one from that range and his low effort drags just wide across goal in the end.
GORETZKA FEELING HIMSELF
The Bayern midfielder had his Germany teammates watching on as he showed some passion in his celebration, having opened the scoring inside two minutes.
Finally, Iceland get a chance on goal as Bödvarsson battles with Klostermann into the area and the ball runs for Sigurjonsson to hit across goal. It's deflected along the way and goes wide for a corner.
ALL IN ICELAND'S HALF
The away side have hardly had a touch of the ball in Germany's half so far in the first 30 minutes. Ginter and Rüdiger have been outstanding when called upon, but really it's been the midfield trio which has kept the control.
KEEPING THINGS TICKING
Germany have only created three chances on goal here, and have scored twice. Kimmich is keeping the game ticking over in midfield going both ways for Germany - winning the ball and keeping it, too. Iceland are looking to work on the counter, but are being snuffed out on the rare occasions that they can get on the ball.
GOOD CHANCE FOR GORETZKA!
Kimmich fires in a corner from the left side with some pace towards the near post, and Bayern teammate Goretzka makes the run to meet it. His glancing header is a good one, but he can't aim it on target. Germany still on top here with this game only going one way in the opening 15 minutes.
Not only are Germany looking comfortable in possession, but they also look intent without the ball. As soon as possession is lost two, three or even four players are chasing the ball and winning it back. The intensity has been fantastic so far and proving impossible for Iceland to handle.
THE LEAD IS DOUBLED!
This dream start just gets better for Germany and once again, Kimmich is the architecht. His through-ball to Sane on the left is perfect and sends his Bayern teammate into the Iceland area. He cuts the ball back in front of goal to Havertz, who simply slides it home across goal.
Gnabry is playing through the middle in attack, with Havertz to the right and Sane to the left. Kimmich is sat deep in midfield with Goretzka and Gündogan further up, while Klostermann is at right-back and Can at left-back. Germany looking very confident here in the early minutes.
WHAT A START!
Iceland haven't had a single touch of the ball and Germany take the lead. It's a perfect Bayern connection as Kimmich lobs a dream ball over the Iceland defence for Gnabry, who beats the offside trip to then look back and lay the ball into Goretzka to fire a half-volley home from 12 yards.
Germany, in their brand new all-black away kit, get us underway.
The two teams are out on the pitch here in Duisburg, with the national anthems set to play out before kick-off in the first 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier for Germany.
THE SEARCH FOR GOALS
Gnabry is Germany's highest-scoring player in the period since the 2018 World Cup, with 11 goals in 15 appearances. The Bayern winger is joined in a three-man attack this evening by Bayern teammate Sane, and Chelsea's Havertz.
LÖW'S INCREDIBLE QUALIFYING RECORD
Löw has overseen 188 games as Germany head coach, including 30 matches across three World Cup qualifying campaigns (W27, D3). An absolutely outstanding record which has, of course, helped Löw lead Germany to three World Cups and one winning campaign.
GERMANY TEAM NEWS
Joachim Löw's side is made up of eight Bundesliga players and three English Premier League players, with Antonio Rüdiger, Ilkay Gündogan and Kai Havertz all starting. There are five Bayern players in the starting XI, with Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka partnered in midfield and Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane on the wings.
Kristinsson, Runarsson, Eyjolfsson, R. Sigurdsson, J. Gudmundsson, Sigthorsson, A. Sigurdsson, Fridjonsson, Hermannsson, A. Gudmundsson, Skulason
GERMANY TEAM NEWS
With a lengthy absentee list: Brandt (not included), Dahoud (not included), Draxler (not included), Gosens (muscular), Halstenberg (not included), Hofmann (not included), Koch (knee), Kroos (groin), Süle (thigh) - Löw is expected to give game time to several fringe players, such as Philipp Max, Lukas Klostermann and Emre Can. Official team news will be coming in the next 20 minutes or so.
WATCH: MUSIALA AND WIRTZ - LEADING THE NEXT GENERATION
MUSIALA AND WIRTZ TO MAKE HISTORY?
With 18-year-old Jamal Musiala of Bayern Munich and 17-year-old Florian Wirtz of Bayer Leverkusen included in the squad, history could be made this evening in Duisburg. Should Wirtz play in the opening qualification game against Iceland, he will become the third-youngest Germany international behind Marius Hiller (17 years, 239 days) and Willy Baumgartner (17 years, 102 days) who made their debuts in 1910 and 1908 respectively. A debut in the same game for Musiala would see the midfielder become the fourth-youngest international in Germany's history, just behind the legendary Uwe Seeler.
GERMANY TO KICK-OFF QUALIFYING CAMPAIGN
With less than 100 days to go until this summer's European Championships, it's time for qualification to begin for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It's a tournament that will see the four-time World Champions coached by another man, with Joachim Löw leaving his role as the national team's head coach after 15 years. Tonight, the first of three games over the next week takes place as Germany begin their qualification campaign.