Germany 4-0 Belarus: Qualification clinched in comfortable home win

Ben Spratt

Monchengladbach, November 17: Germany qualified for Euro 2020 with an ultimately comfortable 4-0 win over Belarus following Toni Kroos' brace at Borussia Park.

Needing Northern Ireland to fail to beat Netherlands in order to secure their place at the finals with victory on Saturday (November 16), Joachim Low's men initially struggled to hold up their end of the bargain.

Indeed, Germany laboured for 41 minutes until Matthias Ginter belatedly netted and teed up a second-half stroll.

Leon Goretzka swept in the second, Kroos added the third and then a brilliant fourth, while Group C rivals Northern Ireland were held, setting celebrations in motion in Monchengladbach.

Germany were quickly on top and Aleksandr Gutor had to be alert to react to a deflected Ginter drive, smartly turning the ball around the post.

But the wayward hosts then toiled and an unmarked Timo Werner miscued a header in the centre of goal with the 20th attempt of the first half.

Manuel Neuer was required to bail out his wasteful colleagues, springing to his left to deny Igor Stasevich before blocking from Denis Laptev on the follow-up.

That scare shocked Germany into action, and Ginter's deft flick from a low Serge Gnabry cross deceived Gutor for the opener.

Ginter had a role to play in the second shortly after the restart, too, dummying Kroos' corner for Goretzka to pick out the bottom-left corner.

Gutor dived low to keep out Werner's latest effort but was helpless as Kroos sidefooted inside the right-hand post from 20 yards, assisted by Ginter.

There was time for further Neuer heroics, however, as the Bayern Munich star saved Stasevich's penalty after a clumsy foul on Pavel Nekhajchik from Robin Koch.

Kroos would have the final say, controlling on the turn inside the area, dummying into space and sliding in a low finish for number four.

What does it mean? Work to do - despite the scoreline

It is mission accomplished for Germany, with their place at Euro 2020 clinched. But this is far from a vintage German side and, if they are to be contenders at the finals, improvement is needed from an outfit that struggled early on against relative minnows Belarus, who were also able to cause the 2014 world champions problems going the other way.

Neuer proves his worth

There has been plenty of discussion of late of the goalkeeping role for Germany, with Neuer competing with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen. While there have been some difficult outings in the past 18 months, this was one of Neuer's better evenings.

His double-stop at 0-0 from Stasevich and Laptev kept the hosts on track after a frustrating first 40 minutes. The penalty save then preserved a deserved clean sheet.

Wasteful Werner's woes

Werner will be grateful to both Neuer and Ginter, as he should have broken the deadlock before they both crucially intervened. An awful attempted header with the goal gaping summed up an underwhelming display from Germany's star attacker. Such misses at Euro 2020 will likely be far more costly.

What's next?

Germany host Northern Ireland on Tuesday (November 19) in a match that now means little to either side. Belarus are into the play-offs but have appeared for the final time in this group, instead playing Montenegro in a friendly next week.

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