World Champions Germany booked their place for the Euro championships in 2016 with a closely fought 2-1 win over lowly Georgia. The Germans eventually ended on top of Group D with 22 points from their 10 qualifying matches. They will now head to France next summer hoping to add the Euro crown to their coffers having already won the 2014 FIFA World cup in Brazil.
Germany were never well placed to get an automatic qualification though they led the group going into Sunday’s matchup. With Poland and the Republic of Ireland both in contention for the two automatic qualifying places along with themselves, they had to secure a favourable draw at the minimum. But all those fears were put to bed thanks to second-half goals from Thomas Muller and substitute Max Kruse.
With knowledge of the precarious situation at hand, Germany started the match briskly creating a host of chances early on in the first half. But a determined Georgia held on to go into half time at 0-0. After 15 attempts on goal without joy in the first half, Germany finally looked to have taken control after Muller struck from the spot after 50 minutes. Referee Pavel Kralovec had no hesitation in awarding the penalty after Ozil was tripped by Kankava and Muller made no mistake from 12 yards.
Georgia hit back almost instantly when their captain Jaba Kankava levelled with a superb left-foot volley from outside the box. Manuel Neuer had absolutely no chance of stopping the sweetly struck volley from Kankava. Things almost got worse for Germany as a quick Georgia counter-attack led to a chance for Kazaishvili but he shot just over the before Neuer rescued his side after some poor defending with a brilliant save from Okriashvili.
Conceding another and slipping to defeat might have meant missing out on automatic qualification altogether but Kruse eased German nerves in the 79th minute, just moments after coming on. Kruse had been on the field for just three minutes when he was fed on the edge of the box by an incisive pass from Ozil and he beat Revishvili with a firm first-time shot into the bottom corner. Victory rendered the result of the clash between Poland and the Republic of Ireland irrelevant as far as Germany were concerned and secured top spot.
A relieved Germany manager Joachim Low, speaking to reporters after the match expressed his disappointment with how his team finished off their round of qualifiers.
He said, “ We know that is not what we demand from ourselves. Not the way we are currently operating in front of goal. We made our own life difficult.
"We are satisfied with the qualification but not satisfied with our last two games [they lost 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland on Thursday]. That is not our standard. We have work ahead of us."Published 12 Oct 2015, 11:17 IST