Germany sealed their place in next year’s World Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over manager-less Republic of Ireland in Cologne. Under caretaker boss Noel King, Ireland gave a better account of themselves than in a 6-1 defeat to the same opponents in Dublin last year but still couldn’t match up to a Germany side that needed just a point to ensure topping their group ahead of Sweden. Sami Khedira’s deflected effort put the home side in front early before the win was secured when Andre Schurrle scored just before the hour mark and Mesut Ozil skillfully added a third in injury time.
Despite missing Marco Reus, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, Germany tested Ireland goalkeeper David Forde a number of times. Ireland, meanwhile, whose chances of qualifying were realistically already over, were without Robbie Keane through an ankle injury which led King to hand a start to Anthony Stokes after two years in exile under Giovanni Trapattoni.
But the Ireland Under-21 manager, who had been bullish about his country’s chances in the buildup, saw his side get off to an unfortunate start. And it was Stokes who began the trouble by losing the ball inside his own half. Philipp Lahm knocked a pass forward to Khedira and the Real Madrid midfielder’s shot took a pivotal deflection off of Ciaran Clarke to take it past the prone Forde.
Germany twice came close to doubling their lead, but Forde repelled a header from Andre Schurrle and a long-range effort from Thomas Muller. Yet Ireland almost defied Germany’s dominance by grabbing an equalizer in first-half injury time. Instead, Clarke’s header came back off the crossbar.
In the 58th minute, Germany took a decisive 2-0 lead. Toni Kroos supplied a delightful chipped through ball to find Schurrle, who turned neatly in the box before finishing coolly past Forde with his left foot. And after Jerome Boateng hit the bar, Germany completed the scoring in added time. Kroos again provided the pass this time to get Ozil through and the Arsenal man provided an intricate dink over Forde.