A pair of goals in four first-half minutes saw Germany coast to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Northern Ireland in Hanover.
Julian Draxler’s opener and Sami Khedira’s header both came inside the first 17 minutes and Michael O’Neill may have feared the worst against the team that gave them the run-around at the European Championship in France four months earlier.
However, the visitors regrouped and did not concede again, ensuring they emerged from a clash with the World Cup holders, who won for a 94th time under Joachim Low, with their heads held high.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
“2-0 down and genuinely sat at home smiling and feeling proud of the support our fans give. Can’t wait to bring my son on an away trip #GAWA.” Boxer Carl Frampton (@RealCFrampton) was proud of Northern Ireland.
Lee Hodson. The Rangers full-back was thrown in for his first competitive international start in three years and was facing the world champions in their own backyard. And he certainly answered his manager’s call by helping to keep the Germans at bay after their quick start.
A RESPECTABLE DEFEAT
Having been 2-0 down inside the opening 20 minutes, Northern Ireland were staring at a long, long night. But they regrouped and were rarely troubled after that, with a two-goal margin certainly not harmful to their goal difference in a group where the Czech Republic and Norway have both already lost 3-0 to the world champions.
O’NEILL HAS DEPTH
Three changes were made from the starting line-up to the one that defeated San Marino 4-0 on Saturday and each incoming player - Hodson, Aaron Hughes and Corry Evans - did well. O’Neill will always have the challenge of only being able to pick from a limited pool of players but it appears he has greater strength in depth than he has for some time.