The Euro 2020 qualifiers continued at pace on Monday night, with victories for Germany and Belgium. Here is how the action unfolded in those potentially crucial qualifiers:
Germany ease past Northern Ireland
Germany recorded a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park to move back to the top of Group C.
The home side stood strong in the first half of the clash and the match was goalless at the break. However, it took Joachim Low’s highly-rated team just three minutes into the second period to take the lead.
Marcel Halstenberg half-volleyed a far-post cross from Lukas Klostermann superbly past Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. The moment was one of poor quality from the full-back.
Germany continued to dominate the game, as Peacock-Farrell produced a good save from Julian Brandt before Klostermann fired over with the rebound. Bayern Munich attacking midfielder Serge Gnabry also poked wide of the target. The home goalkeeper also produced an excellent save from Timo Werner.
The home side saw a penalty appeal turned down when Paddy McNair went down in the area. They just couldn’t find enough to trouble the home defence and Gnabry sealed the victory in stoppage-time after beating the offside trap.
The victory means that Germany now top the group on goal difference ahead of Northern Ireland. Die Mannschaft remain the favourites to top the group. The home side remains three points clear of the Netherlands in third-place. However, the Oranje have a game in hand on Michael O’Neill’s side.
De Bruyne stars as Belgium hammer Scotland
Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne starred for Belgium, as Roberto Martinez’s team recorded a 4-0 victory against Scotland at Hampden Park.
A bright start by the home side was quickly extinguished on nine minutes after a classic counter-attack. The visitors broke from a Scotland free-kick with Dries Mertens releasing De Bruyne who found himself in a two on one with Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson. The City playmaker calmly rolled striker Romelu Lukaku through on goal and the Inter forward fired home.
The visitors doubled their lead on 24 minutes, as Thomas Vermaelen finished off a De Bruyne cross from close-range. Toby Alderweireld got in on the goalscoring act on 32 minutes, heading home from 12 yards, with De Bruyne providing yet another assist.
Scotland then offered a rare attacking threat, as a Matty Phillips effort from 25 forced Thibaut Courtois into an easy save. However, Martinez’s team could and probably should have extended their lead, as Youri Tielemans, Thomas Meunier and Lukaku all missed first-half chances.
The second period started in a lively manner, with Scotland making a brighter start. Courtois produced a good save from Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay in the opening exchanges of the second half. However, the visitors also went close in the second period, as Marshall needed to pull a good save to deny Mertens.
Robertson also had a shot saved by Courtois. The visitors wrapped up the victory with eight minutes remaining on the clock, as De Bruyne slotted home from a Lukaku pass.
The victory leaves Belgium top of the group, having picked up maximum points from the group so far. They are cruising to qualification for Euro 2020. Scotland now languishes in fifth-place and unlikely to realistically qualify from the group. However, a play-off in March due to their Nations League performances offers them a second chance at qualification.
Monday’s other Euro 2020 qualifying results
Azerbaijan 1-1 Croatia
Estonia 0-4 Netherlands
Hungary 1-2 Slovakia
Latvia 0-2 North Macedonia
Poland 0-0 Austria
Russia 1-0 Kazakhstan
San Marino 0-4 Cyprus
Slovenia 3-2 Israel
Who produced the result of the night in qualifying for Euro 2020?