Germany routs San Marino to stay perfect in World Cup qualifying
NUREMBERG, Germany — Sandro Wagner scored a hat trick on his second appearance for Germany as the defending champion maintained its perfect record in World Cup qualifying with another rout of San Marino, 7-0 on Saturday.
Germany scored 27 goals in three previous games against the tiny microstate, and it was just a question of how many an unfamiliar looking lineup could score on this occasion.
In the end, it was Germany’s highest win at home under coach Joachim Loew.
Germany’s starting lineup came from 11 different clubs for the first time in 57 years as Loew gave his experimental Confederations Cup squad another run-out.
“You can try certain things in these games, gain confidence, produce nice play. I’m satisfied with that,” Loew said. “Not everything worked out but a few things did.”
Julian Draxler, one of only three members of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad called up for the tournament in Russia, captained the side on his 30th international appearance, and he opened the scoring with a curling effort inside the far post as the home side’s early pressure paid off.
Wagner claimed his first international goal five minutes later, and he didn’t have to wait long before claiming his second – after fans indulged in Mexican waves.
Midfielder Amin Younes claimed his first goal for Germany before the break, and there were more cheers after it when Shkodran Mustafi scored two minutes into the second half.
Fans needed a bit of patience before the sixth arrived courtesy of Julian Brandt, who claimed his first international goal in the 72nd, and Wagner completed the rout with five minutes remaining.
Germany made it six wins from six, 27 goals scored and just one conceded in Group C as it looks to wrap up qualification as quickly as possible. Resting almost all of the regular players made little difference.
Group winners from the nine groups qualify automatically for the 32-team World Cup in Russia, while the eight runners-up with the best records against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups go on to play-offs to decide the other four tournament places allocated to Europe.
NORWAY 1, CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Theodor Gebre Selassie scored from close range 10 minutes before the break, but Norway’s Alexander Soderlund equalized from the penalty spot as the Czech Republic fell four points behind second-placed Northern Ireland.
AZERBAIJAN 0, NORTHERN IRELAND 1
Stuart Dallas’ injury-time goal ensured Northern Ireland consolidated second place in the group, five points behind Germany, and dealt the home side a blow to its lingering hopes of a playoff spot.
Michael McGovern denied Afran Ismayilov with a fine save in what was the Azeris’ best chance in the second half.
Azerbaijan stayed fourth on seven points, now six behind Northern Ireland.
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