Germany head coach Joachim Low was relieved to claim a 2-0 win over a "very difficult" Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying at Windsor Park.

The 2014 World Cup winners were made to work hard for the three points in Monday's Group C qualifier, with second-half goals from Marcel Halstenberg and Serge Gnabry proving the difference.

Conor Washington missed good opportunities for Northern Ireland as the hosts caused real difficulty against a Germany defence containing the relatively inexperienced Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann.

Low was impressed with Northern Ireland's performance and was happy to see the way his players adapted their performance to nullify the threat.

"It was a very difficult 90 minutes against a Northern Ireland team that played very attacking football," he told a news conference. 

"In the first half, it was very difficult for us because we were pressed very hard. We improved in the second half but it was a very difficult game and we're pleased to have won the match.

"It's a team that hasn't played together and they must learn to play themselves into form and get to know each other's style. We'll be looking at each stage of our game as we move forward.

"They tried to break up our play and they found gaps, especially in the first half. After half-time, Northern Ireland played with more tempo and speed but we responded. In the first half, we gave them too much room. They're strong in the air and we have to adjust our game to this style of play.

"I think we have good potential for the future and it's about working with this team to bring them through."

Julian Brandt saw improvement on Germany's 4-2 loss to Netherlands last Friday but also accepted there is room for improvement.

"We have some problems to explore," said the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

"We played better than on Friday, but not everything was perfect going forward, especially with that final pass. That improved in the second half and we could have scored a couple more.

"Some things can be improved – being more clinical is one of those."

Germany are level with Northern Ireland on 12 points at the top of Group C, three points above Netherlands, who have a game in hand.

Low's Germany face Estonia in their next qualifier in October.

Ilkay Gundogan will miss Germany's Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland due to illness.

The Manchester City midfielder will return to his club rather than remaining in Belfast with the Germany squad, who take on the Euro 2020 qualifying Group C leaders on Monday.

Germany revealed Gundogan was suffering with a cold via Twitter, signing off the post with the line: "Get well soon, Ilkay!"

Gundogan came on as a second-half substitute for Germany in their 4-2 home loss to Netherlands on Friday, a result that leaves them three points behind their next opponents in the table.

His condition will be monitored by City, who travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City in Premier League action next Saturday.

The 28-year-old has featured in all four league matches for Pep Guardiola's side this season, starting in the 2-2 home draw with Tottenham and the 3-1 away triumph at Bournemouth.

Joachim Low criticised Germany's inability to follow his tactical plan in a "disappointing" 4-2 Euro 2020 qualifying loss at home to Netherlands.

Late goals from debutant Donyell Malen and Georginio Wijnaldum settled a classic clash at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion on Friday, earning Ronald Koeman's side revenge for their 3-2 home loss to Germany in March, in which Nico Schulz scored a 90th-minute winner.

Victory for Netherlands boosts their hopes of qualifying for next year's tournament by moving them to six points from three Group C games, though they remain three points behind Germany and a further three back from leaders Northern Ireland.

Germany go to Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday with Low accepting his team's display against the Oranje, conceding four goals after the interval, was not up to scratch.

"I am disappointed. We played under our technical ability," he told RTL.

"Even though we were in the lead at 1-0, we never had the feeling that we had the game under control. We lost too many balls.

"The plan was to get more control. In the first half we ran after them too much.

"But Netherlands became more powerful and we could not free ourselves. The Dutch could move up, we played high balls.

"That was not our understanding of the game, what we really want."

Germany only had 39.2 per cent of the ball before the break, though turning the tables with 59.5 per cent of possession in the second half resulted in them being hit on the break repeatedly.

"We did not play well in the first half and we had very little possession," he added. "It cannot be our game to have so little possession.

"There was a bad game today, we have to learn from it and make things better again in Northern Ireland. We really wanted to win the game today and we did that very badly today."

Donyell Malen scored on his international debut and Georginio Wijnaldum struck in added time as Netherlands beat Germany 4-2 away in a classic clash in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.

Nico Schulz struck late to give Germany a 3-2 victory in Amsterdam earlier in the group stage but the tables were turned at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion.

Toni Kroos' penalty levelled the game at 2-2 but Malen's volley wrapped up a clinical break to give Ronald Koeman's side the lead before Wijnaldum made sure of the points.

Manuel Neuer denied Memphis Depay in a frantic first few minutes and the deadlock was broken at the other end moments later.

Joshua Kimmich's pass sent Lukas Klostermann through on goal only for his shot to be hit straight into Jasper Cillessen's chest, with Serge Gnabry on hand to turn in the rebound.

Germany continued to dominate and only Cillessen's excellent 42nd-minute save from Marco Reus ensured the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Neuer pushed away a Quincy Promes drive after the restart but the Bayern goalkeeper was beaten in the 59th minute, Frenkie de Jong firing home after Jonathan Tah missed Ryan Babel's cross.

Tah then bundled into his own goal as Netherlands moved in front, though Germany were quickly back on level terms when Kroos converted a penalty that was harshly given for an inadvertent handball in the box by Matthijs de Ligt.

But just like in March there would be late drama, Wijnaldum teeing up debutant Malen for a fine finish then converting Depay's brilliant low cross himself to seal a fine win that leaves Northern Ireland three points clear at the top of the section.


What does it mean? Hopes alive for Koeman's men

Defeat in Hamburg would have been a blow for Netherlands' hopes of reaching next year's European Championship, but Group C is shaping up beautifully as teams approach the midway point of their qualifying campaigns. Germany remain in a strong position despite this loss.


De Jong off the mark

Not only did De Jong score his first Netherlands goal, the Barcelona midfielder dictated play in midfield on what was only his 10th international appearance. It is a year exactly since De Jong made his Oranje debut, but the 22-year-old is already arguably the key man for his country.


Tah at fault for two goals

Not only did Tah slip in the build-up to the Netherlands equaliser, he then turned in the goal that first put them in front. It was a seven-minute spell to forget for the Bayer Leverkusen defender.


What's next?

Group leaders Northern Ireland host Germany in a crunch clash on Monday, the same day Netherlands look to give their campaign a major boost when they travel to Estonia.

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos talked up Netherlands' improvement over the past two years and expects another tough test when the sides meet in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Four-time world champions Germany have won all three qualifiers ahead of Friday's home match with Netherlands, who they beat 3-2 in their opening Group C match in March.

The Dutch got the better of their rivals in the UEFA Nations League last year, however, and Kroos believes Ronald Koeman's men have gone from strength to strength since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

"They have improved so much in the last two years," he said at Thursday's pre-match news conference. 

"Our games have always been tight and high quality. I'm expecting another tough match.

"With the amount of changes we've gone through, we've certainly not reached our limit yet. Netherlands can hurt any team. Our job is to stop them."

Germany followed up their victory over Netherlands in Amsterdam with a 2-0 win away to Belarus and an 8-0 thumping of Estonia to leave them three points behind leaders Northern Ireland, who they face next week.

Joachim Low has used a front three in each of those games but will be without injured duo Leroy Sane and Leon Goretzka, who started the reverse fixture with Netherlands, for Friday's clash at Volksparkstadion.

"Leon had a bit of a bruise after training yesterday," Low told reporters. "It's very important for a young team to gain familiarity, but we will still go into the game with a spring in our step despite the missing players.

"We want to keep playing with a front three. We can set up in a 4-3-3 or a 5-2-3, though. The team are very capable of doing both.

"Everyone is capable of showing their individual quality, but our unity and positional structure is our foundation.

Germany are also without Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer and Antonio Rudiger for their qualifying double-header and Low wants others to step up, such as three-cap midfielder Kai Havertz.

"He has real quality and can be a star player over the next few years," he said of the Bayer Leverkusen youngster. 

"He still needs to develop and improve, though. He's shown his class so far and I'm sure that he will establish himself."

Luca Waldschmidt has won a maiden senior call-up for Germany's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Netherlands and Northern Ireland, although Paris Saint-Germain winger Julian Draxler is an injury absentee.

Waldschmidt won the Golden Boot as the Germany Under-21 team finished runners-up to Spain at the European Championship in June, on the back of scoring nine Bundesliga goals for Freiburg in 2018-19.

The 22-year-old has flown out of the blocks this term, netting two in two top-flight appearances.

Draxler started PSG's first two Ligue 1 games this season but missed the 4-0 win over Toulouse with a foot injury that rules him out – further depleting Joachim Low's wide attacking options following Leroy Sane's knee ligament injury.

Low has selected Borussia Dortmund duo Marco Reus and Julian Brandt, Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner as his other forward options.

There is a recall for Juventus defensive midfielder Emre Can ahead of the keenly anticipated clash with Netherlands.

Ronald Koeman's men progressed to the Nations League Finals at Germany's expense thanks to a resounding 3-0 victory in Amsterdam last October.

Die Mannschaft gained revenge in a thrilling 3-2 win back at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in March to take some early initiative in Group C.

Northern Ireland are top of the standings with four wins from four, while Germany also boast a 100 per cent record and have a game in hand.

 

Germany squad in full:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Bernd Leno (Arsenal); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Niklas Stark (Hertha), Matthias Ginter (Gladbach), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich), Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Nico Schulz (Dortmund); Emre Can (Juventus), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Kai Havertz (Leverkusen), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid); Julian Brandt (Dortmund), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Dortmund), Luca Waldschmidt (Freiburg), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Germany coach Joachim Low will miss the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia after he was injured in a "sporting accident".

The German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed Low's treatment is proceeding well, but the 59-year-old has been advised by doctors to rest for the next month.

Low will be replaced by his assistant Marcus Sorg and goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke for the trip to Borisov on June 8 and subsequent visit of Estonia three days later.

Nevertheless, Low plans to remain in contact with them and team manager Oliver Bierhoff around the fixtures.

"I'm feeling well again, but I have to relax a bit over the next four weeks," Low said in the DFB's statement.

"I'm in constant contact with my coaching team, and we'll be in close contact with each other around the two matches.

"Marcus Sorg, Andy Kopke and Oliver Bierhoff have a lot of experience and together we will bridge this short break. "

Bierhoff remains confident everything will run smoothly despite Low's absence, and that all decisions will be discussed with him.

He added: "The most important thing is that Jogi will be fit in a couple of days, and even though you know he would like to be at the training ground it is right for him to relax.

"Marcus Sorg and Andy Kopke know the procedures and the team very well, they discuss everything closely with Jogi anyway."

Germany began their Group C campaign with a 3-2 win away to Netherlands in March, as they set out to eradicate the underwhelming 2018 World Cup campaign from their memories.

Northern Ireland lead the pool heading into the next round of fixtures, having won both of their first two matches.

Joachim Low was left "very satisfied" after Germany started their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 3-2 win over Netherlands.

Nico Schulz's 90th-minute goal saw Low's men to victory in the Group C clash in Amsterdam on Sunday.

After a difficult 2018 that led to questions over his position as coach, Low said he had moved on from the tough year.

Asked if he was happy, Low said: "I am very satisfied.

"I personally feel very good. I do not think about the old year anymore, I went through it.

"We had good moments during the last games already. I had this good feeling before the game already because in France and at home against Netherlands we were playing well too but weren't rewarded."

Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry had put Germany in control before the hosts responded in the second half, drawing level through Matthijs de Ligt and Memphis Depay, only for Schulz to deliver the winner.

Low explained his decision to start with Sane, Gnabry and Leon Goretzka in attack.

"We wanted to attack with three players. With Leroy, Serge and Leon that we attack their four defenders and [Frenkie] de Jong too," he said.

"We wanted these three guys to play very close together and show a variable playing style with changing positions a lot.

"It was not about playing with two forwards but more with three who are playing offensively together and find spaces."

Matthijs de Ligt felt Netherlands were scared to attack Germany in the first half of their Euro 2020 qualifying defeat in Amsterdam.

Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane scored fantastic goals to put Joachim Low's side 2-0 up at the break in Group C on Sunday.

De Ligt's first international goal halved the deficit shortly after the restart with Memphis Depay then drawing Ronald Koeman's men level.

But Germany, who were beaten 3-0 by Netherlands in the Nations League last year, snatched the points in the last minute when Nico Schulz struck.

Koeman made changes at half-time to get his side back in the game and Ajax captain De Ligt accepted Netherlands were too passive in the opening period.

"The first half wasn't good," the teenage centre-back told NOS. "We didn't put on the pressure and they had a lot of space.

"Germany has very skillful players with guys like Sane, Gnabry, [Leon] Goretzka and [Toni] Kroos.

"Maybe we were somehow scared to attack Germany. In the second half we showed we're a good team, but that was too late.

"It's the Dutch mentality to try to score a third goal. You could keep pressing or defend and we did the first thing, but you should remain focused and we lacked in the end."

Virgil van Dijk agreed with De Ligt's assessment, both centre-backs having appeared unsettled by Low's use of a formation that included no strikers but saw Sane and Gnabry roam off the flanks.

"We knew we have a long way to go and tonight proved that," the Liverpool defender told NOS.  "We came back so well and then you should grab a point at least. Too bad it didn't work out that way.

"We had difficulties in the first half. They had a lot of movement and we weren't organised well. We improved a lot in the second half when Frenkie de Jong played more from midfield."

Joachim Low feels there is still work to do for Germany despite his new-look side winning 3-2 away to Netherlands in a high-quality Euro 2020 qualifier.

Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane scored superb goals to give Germany a 2-0 lead in Amsterdam in Group C, but Memphis Depay inspired a turnaround after the break with a goal and an assist.

With the spoils seemingly set to be shared, Nico Schulz came up with a late winner to give Germany victory at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on Sunday.

It was revenge for Germany, beaten 3-0 by Ronald Koeman's side in the Nations League last year, and their first victory away to the Dutch in 23 years.

Low, though, understands his young squad will need patience as Germany seek to bounce back from their awful World Cup defence.

"The first half was great, we had the game under complete control," Low said to RTL.

"The second-half goal came at a very bad time. Today we had the luck of the game that we missed in the past games.

"A win in Holland is very good, it will help us in our further process. But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

"We stayed in the match until the very end, so compliments to the team."

Manuel Neuer made a brace of key first-half saves to repel Ryan Babel, justifying his selection over Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

But the Germany captain is not taking his place in the side for granted with Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp also available to Low.

"The late winning goal means a lot," Neuer told RTL.

"Especially in the previous duels with Holland they have often caught us in the final stages, so I thought that the turning point would come for us today.

"It is not so easy for a young team to clear their minds, just keep playing, it was difficult, but we did not lose heart, tried everything and fortunately still achieved this winning goal. 

"Basically, public opinion always interests me, but I have to concentrate on my job, like all goalkeepers - like Marc, Kevin, Bernd, all great men."

Nico Schulz scored a superb last-minute winner as Germany survived a Netherlands fightback in Amsterdam to earn a gripping 3-2 victory in Group C of Euro 2020 qualifying.

Germany coach Joachim Low named a side without a striker but goals from wingers Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane, symbols of their new generation, established a 2-0 half-time lead.

Memphis Depay recorded a goal and an assist as Netherlands came from behind after the interval to seemingly claim a point at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on Sunday.

Germany, though, earned revenge for last year's 3-0 Nations League defeat against Ronald Koeman's side, when wide man Schulz got forward to finish brilliantly with his weaker right foot.

Joachim Low confirmed that Leroy Sane is fit to face the Netherlands in Germany's European Championship qualifier on Sunday after being the victim of a "vicious foul" against Serbia.

Sane hobbled off in second-half stoppage time in Germany's 1-1 friendly draw after a challenge from Milan Pavkov that earned the Serbian a red card.

Serge Gnabry missed the game due to an illness but Low confirmed that both players would be fit for the start of his side's Group C campaign at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, and said Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos would be in his starting line-up.

"Both Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry are fit and available to play," Low told reporters. "I can confirm that Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos will both start the game.

"There's always a special atmosphere in this fixture. We want to have a successful qualifying campaign and obviously results are key to that, but we're also after a continuous development within the team.

"Netherlands have great chemistry and will be highly motivated. But we're well equipped to put in a good performance here tomorrow night, and we will."

Kroos was among the substitutes against Serbia but is set to partner Joshua Kimmich at the heart of Germany's midfield against the Netherlands.

With Low having alternated between a defensive back three and a line of four in previous games, Kroos said his team-mates were comfortable with either system.

"We have had some good performances recently with a back-three," said the Real Madrid playmaker.

"But we're very familiar with a back four, too. I feel comfortable in both systems."

On his prospective partnership with Kimmich, he added: "The last few games have shown that we work well together.

"We complement each other - it's certainly an option long-term."

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has warned his players not to take Germany lightly in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

World Cup winners in 2014, Joachim Low's side offered a meek title defence in Russia as they bowed out at the group stage, and they were subsequently relegated from the Nations League top tier having finished bottom of a group featuring Netherlands and France.

Low caused controversy earlier this month by dropping Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his squad, while Die Mannschaft were booed off at half-time in Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia in Wolfsburg.

Koeman, who saw his side stretch their unbeaten run to five matches with a 4-0 win over Belarus in their opening Group C game on Thursday, is adamant that Low's men should not be underestimated and he sees some similarities with his own situation when he took charge of the national team last year.

"If you don't lose for a long time, there will be a moment you do lose, even though we would like to stay in our winning ways," he told a media conference.

"If you compare the two squads, it's more clear on our side. Our players look more confident, sometimes a bit too arrogant against Belarus. But we do realise that we have to be at our best because Germany has really good players that can make our lives miserable.

"Of course, there's some parallels. They're rejuvenating, they've tried different formations like I did. I too started with five defenders, but we switched to a different system, which we will keep for now.

"We've tried to develop young players, that's what's Germany is doing now as well. Maybe it's easier to just start with new players than having to say goodbye to older players - that's what's happened in Germany. Muller, Boateng and Hummels still play at the highest level. But that's their problem."

Memphis Depay was instrumental in the emphatic win over Belarus, scoring twice and creating the other two.

Koeman attributes the 25-year-old's form to the greater freedom he enjoys with the national team than at Lyon, but admits there is still room for improvement for the former Manchester United forward.

"I don't do anything special with Memphis, I only give him confidence," he added.

"But of course, he has a lot more freedom here than at his club. He's playing centrally with lots of freedom and he has a good connection with [Ryan] Babel, [Steven] Bergwijn and [Georginio] Wijnaldum. We've tried to develop that.

"From the moment he walks in, he's having fun. That's like it should be. But not everything is good. Some things still need to get better. That's what we talk about."

Joachim Low has hinted Manuel Neuer will remain his first-choice goalkeeper at the start of Germany's Euro 2020 qualification campaign ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Neuer started against Serbia in Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw, suggesting the Bayern Munich goalkeeper is still in front of his rival for the role.

Barcelona's Ter Stegen replaced Neuer at half-time but had very little to do, Germany improving in the second half as they fought back to avoid defeat on home soil.

Germany's qualifying campaign begins on Sunday with a trip to face Netherlands, and Neuer looks set to keep his place in Low's XI.

"You can assume that," Low told reporters when asked if Neuer's selection on Wednesday was an indication of him also doing so on Sunday.

"At the end of last week or in the past, I've already said that Marc-Andre will definitely have some chances. That's my plan.

"Now we have just made one game, in this one he has played a half. That was our decision, that Manuel plays as captain in the first half.

"In the second half then Marc-Andre played, but we still have some games during the year and he will certainly get his opportunity."

Leon Goretzka spared Germany's blushes as Joachim Low's men salvaged a 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday, their first game of a so-called new era without Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller.

Low shocked German football earlier this month when announcing the World Cup-winning trio were no longer in his plans, and while Goretzka’s goal avoided defeat in Wolfsburg, the defensive performance suggested Hummels and Boateng could still be of use.

Germany's new-look back four held firm for just 12 minutes, as Barcelona-linked Luka Jovic nodded in from close range, with Serbia looking the more threatening for the majority of the first half.

The hosts coped better with Serbia's ability on the break in the final 30 minutes and were deserving of their equaliser courtesy of Goretzka, though they were unable to find a winner despite the late dismissal of Milan Pavkov.

Germany started brightly and controlled the early proceedings only for Serbia to find the net with the first attempt on target – Jovic expertly steering a header beyond Manuel Neuer after a corner fortunately deflected to the in-form Eintracht Frankfurt striker.

Serbia had a narrow escape at the other end eight minute before half-time, goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic somehow blocking Timo Werner's goal-bound effort from point-blank range.

The visitors finished the first half on top, however, with a brilliant counter seeing Darko Lazovic square to the unmarked Adem Ljajic, who carelessly shot over with just Neuer to beat.

Serbia threatened again soon after the break when Lazovic horribly sliced a shot over from the edge of the box.

That miss was punished 21 minute from the end, Goretzka taking up possession inside the area, dodging one defender and firing a shot past Dmitrovic.

Serbia saw substitute Pavkov shown a red card for a studs-up challenge on Leroy Sane, albeit Germany did not have enough time left to take advantage of the extra man.

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