Serge Gnabry scored as Germany beat Romania to make it two wins from two in Group J of FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Romania 0-1 Germany
Goals: 0-1 Gnabry (16’)
The opening stages saw both sides exchange attempts on goal. Borussia Dortmund’s Emre Can – starting at left-back – curled one over from 18 yards; Claudiu Keseru fired over; Kai Havertz was denied by the leg of goalkeeper Florin Nita; and Valentin Mihaila failed to test Manuel Neuer with a wild effort when in behind. Die Mannschaft soon made an attack tell, though, when Havertz ran onto Antonio Rüdiger’s long ball before squaring for Gnabry to tap home. Bayern Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich then rattled the crossbar with a rasping effort from 25 yards only moments later. Chances after that remained at a premium in Bucharest as Germany went into the break a goal up.
The four-time world champions kept up their advantage into the second half but, despite a number of chances, failed to improve it. Leon Goretzka had a stinging effort parried by Nita, who was a busy goalkeeper as he denied a brilliant solo effort from Gnabry, starting his run from inside his own half, that was destined for the bottom corner. He then reacted quickly to twice deny Ilkay Gündogan from close range but was a helpless bystander when Leroy Sane squandered a golden chance to make it 2-0 as he skewed Gnabry’s cutback wide from only a few yards out. Germany top Group J after two games, joining Armenia as the teams with 100 per cent records. Joachim Löw’s side host North Macedonia in Duisburg in the third and final game of this international break on Wednesday.
- Neuer earned his 98th cap (same as Michael Ballack) and is the most experienced member of the current Germany squad. He has 46 more than the next-most: Bayern teammate Kimmich.
- Gnabry scored his 15th Germany goal on his 19th appearance, overtaking the likes of Jupp Heynckes and Franz Beckenbauer in the scoring stakes.
- The Bayern forward has 12 goals and six assists in his 17 Germany games since the 2018 World Cup. No other player has had a hand in more than 10 goals for Die Mannschaft in that time.
- Löw, who will leave his post as Germany coach after UEFA Euro 2020, took charge of his 190th game as the country’s head coach and has a win rate of 64 per cent.
- Germany have now won 18 World Cup qualifiers in a row and are unbeaten in their last 35. Their record is 36 between 1934 and 1985.
- Germany have still never lost a World Cup qualifier away from home in 47 matches (W37, D10).
Romania: Nita – Popescu, Chiriches (c), Tosca, Camora (Burca 46') - Marin, Stanciu - Hagi (Maxim 83'), Tanase (Cicaldau 83'), Mihaila (Man 66') - Keseru (Puscas 66')
Unused subs: Lazar, Radu, Mogos, Nedelcearu, Bancu, Bicfalvi, Cretu
Out: Alibec (groin), Deac (not included), Grigore (knee), Tatarusanu (unavailable)
Coach: Mirel Radoi
Germany: Neuer (c) - Can, Ginter, Rüdiger, Klostermann - Goretzka, Kimmich, Gündogan - Havertz (Werner 77'), Gnabry (Neuhaus 90'+3), Sane (Younes 90'+4)
Unused subs: Leno, Ter Stegen, Max, Tah, Musiala, Wirtz
Out: Brandt (not included), Dahoud (not included), Draxler (not included), Gosens (muscular), Halstenberg (not included), Hofmann (not included), Koch (knee), Kroos (groin), Süle (thigh)
Coach: Joachim Löw
As it happened
Sane gives the ball away inside his own half and Stanciu is able to nip in ahead of Ginter. Neuer comes out to narrow the angle and forces the Romania midfielder to put his effort into the side netting.
Neuer is finally called into action as substitute George Puscas twists and turns his way into a shooting position down the left, but in the end his effort is straight at the Germany skipper.
Gündogan with a good ball in behind for Werner to run onto down the left. The former RB Leipzig man opens up his body looking for the far corner on his right foot, but it's too close to Nita, who's up to nine saves for the night now.
SANE INTO THE WALL
A free-kick for Germany almost 25 yards out. It's Sane to take, looking to go over the ball but it jumps well and blocks the effort.
NOT CHALLENGEDRomania have only had one attempt on target so far, leaving Manuel Neuer with little to do.
© Razvan Pasarica/SPORT PICTURES via www.imago-images.de/imago images/sport pictures-Razvan Pasarica
Once again it's Gnabry at the heart of things as he glides down the left and into the box. He sees Sane coming through the middle so squares the ball, but the No.19 doesn't get a telling touch on his shot and skews it wide.
It's another threatening break by Germany as Klostermann pings the ball forward. It's three against two as the ball is spread out left to Sane, who cuts it back for the arriving Gündogan. He fires his effort straight at Nita, who's quick to react again to punch the high loose ball away before the former Dortmund man can head it home.
Applause from Joachim Löw on the touchline and rightly so. Gnabry wins the ball back just inside his own half and sets off on a run, jinking past several Romania challenges before trying to find the near bottom corner as he gets into the box, but Nita just gets a hand to it down low to deny the Bayern man a brilliant second.
The hosts manage to carve out a chance of their own as Tanase latches onto the ball to the right of centre inside the box. It's a powerful hit on his left foot but flies over the far corner.
NO WAY THROUGH
Sane rounds Nita after a great reverse pass from Gnabry. His path to goal is blocked out on the left by-line, so he tries to play it back to Gündogan. That's cut out but the ball ricochets back off Nita, who eventually manages to hack clear.
A great run forward from Sane, starting on the halfway line. He lays it left to Can, who squares along the edge of the box to Goretzka. The Bayern midfielder hits it first time and with real venom, but only at goalkeeper Nita.
Kimmich clips in a free-kick from the right. Ginter and Rüdiger are up in the box looking for it, but it's Gnabry who gets his head to it first but can't direct it on target.
GERMANY IN CONTROL
Not much in the way of chances to report since that impressive spell from Germany. The four-time world champions are in command and have seen over two-thirds of the possession. They'll bide their time looking for the next way through this Romania defence.
MADE IN MUNICH
Three Bayern players combine really well on the edge of the Romania box as Goretzka lays the ball off to Sane, who finds himself blocked off so rolls it behind him to Kimmich coming from deep. His shot ultimately hits a yellow shirt.
The Romanian holding midfielder comes forward and fancies his chances against Neuer, but his shot is easily held by the Germany goalkeeper.
KIMMICH OFF THE BAR!
What a hit from Joshua Kimmich! A good 25 yards out, the Bayern midfielder has the ball played back to him and smashes it towards goal. Nita is beaten but the crossbar comes to the Romanians' defence.
SUPER SERGEGnabry now has 15 goals in only 19 appearances for Germany, which sees him overtake the likes of Jupp Heynckes and Franz Beckenbauer in the country's scoring chart. He's now level with Timo Werner. The Bayern man has now also been directly involved in 18 goals in 17 international games since the 2018 World Cup, which is the most of any Germany player in that time.
© Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
GNABRY WITH THE OPENER!
This time it's a long ball from Germany, and this time they make no mistake. Rüdiger pings it over the top up to club teammate Havertz, who squares for Gnabry completely free in the middle to tuck it home.
A first card of the game as the Romania defender hauls down Sane.
Romania go for the direct route this time with a long diagonal over the top. It finds its target in Mihaila, in behind the defence. The ball comes across him to the left of goal as he decides to have a crack, but fires well over Neuer's goal.
Now Germany are in down their right as Havertz is found in behind. The angle is tight but the former Leverkusen man goes for goal. Denied by the outstretched leg of Nita.
A first foray forward by the hosts as they come down the left and chip in a cross which centre-forward Keseru chests down but then fires over the crossbar.
We know Emre Can can hit them from range and this time he latches onto a loose ball just left of centre on the edge of the box, looking for the far top corner, but the Dortmund man doesn't quite have the curl on it.
The Leipzig full-back finds space for a cross down the right, looking for Gnabry in the centre, but it's cut out by the diving Nita in the Romania goal.
As well as competing for a place at the World Cup next year, Löw will also be using these three qualifiers as preparation for this summer’s delayed European Championship. After the North Macedonia game, there’s only a friendly against Latvia on 7 June before Germany kick off their Euros campaign against world champions France on 15 June. Die Mannschaft are scheduled to play all three of their group games at the Allianz Arena in Munich, also taking on European champions Portugal and Hungary in Group F.
THE ROAD TO QATAR 2022
Germany are in Group J as they look to book their place once again at the World Cup finals. The four-time world champions opened their campaign with a 3-0 win over Iceland in Duisburg in the first of 10 matches in qualification. Only the top side will automatically earn their place in Qatar for 2022, with Die Mannschaft alongside Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia and Liechtenstein in this section.
WATCH: NEUER UNDER THE MICROSCOPEHe may have turned 35 yesterday but Manuel Neuer remains the best goalkeeper in world football. The Bayern and Germany No.1 is the most capped keeper in his country's history and continues to deliver world-class performances. We took a closer look at how Neuer has revolutionised the goalkeeping game.
A RARE OCCURANCE
The last time Germany started with the same team in two straight matches was in October 2016, beating the Czech Republic 3-0 and Northern Ireland 2-0 in World Cup qualifiers.
ROMANIA TEAM NEWS
As for Romania, Mirel Radoi makes four changes from their 3-2 win over North Macedonia. Alin Tosca, Ianis Hagi, Valentin Mihaila and Camora all come in for Andrei Burca, Nicusor Bancu, Florinel Coman and Dennis Man.
GERMANY TEAM NEWS
Joachim Löw was clearly impressed with his side’s performance against Iceland in the opening qualifier so names the same starting XI. It sees Manuel Neuer, the day after his 35th birthday, earn his 98th cap, drawing level with Michael Ballack.
Leno, Ter Stegen, Max, Tah, Musiala, Werner, Younes, Neuhaus, Wirtz
Neuer (c) - Can, Ginter, Rüdiger, Klostermann - Goretzka, Kimmich, Gündogan - Havertz, Gnabry, Sane
Lazar, Radu, Mogos, Nedelcearu, Cicaldau, Puscas, Maxim, Bancu, Burca, Bicfalvi, Man, Cretu
Nita – Popescu, Chiriches (c), Tosca, Camora - Marin, Stanciu - Hagi, Tanase, Mihaila - Keseru