Joachim Low applauded a weakened Germany for battling through adversity in the 3-0 win over Estonia that put them on the cusp of Euro 2020 qualification.

Emre Can's 14th-minute dismissal for a last-man foul on Frank Liivak left the visitors at risk of a potentially embarrassing result in Tallinn on Sunday but two deflected strikes from Ilkay Gundogan after half-time dug Low's men out of a hole.

The Manchester City midfielder then set up the sealer for Timo Werner as Germany edged three points clear of third-place Northern Ireland in Group C with two games remaining.

Toni Kroos, Matthias Ginter, Serge Gnabry and several more regular squad members missed the Estonia match through injury, while Werner and Gundogan only returned to the fold after skipping last week's friendly against Argentina due to illness and a muscle problem respectively.

"Firstly, I'm happy we got the job done," Low said after the victory, his team's fifth in six qualifying fixtures.

"It was tough work out there. The team did well in the second half. We kept a clean sheet and scored three goals.

"The decisive factor was that we increased the tempo in the second half and kept calm.

"A lot has gone wrong this week with all the injuries and withdrawals. 

"It took a bit of improvisation. We did not train much. The first half against Argentina was good and the second against Estonia, so we can still analyse that and gain good insights."

Goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer agreed with his head coach's assessment, deeming the result and performance acceptable given the circumstances.

He said: "We were down to 10 men after 15 minutes, which makes everything more difficult as you have to reset.

"Because of that, I didn't think it was a bad performance.

"It was a matter of time that the goals would come. Eventually we put them away."

Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hit back after he was criticised for liking a supposedly politically charged social media post from Turkey striker Cenk Tosun, insisting he was only trying to "support" a friend.

Everton forward Tosun scored a late winner in Turkey's 1-0 victory over Albania on Friday – he and team-mates celebrating with a military-style salute.

Those actions were widely interpreted as a gesture of support of Turkey's armed offensive against Kurds in Syria.

Tosun subsequently posted a photo of celebration on social media and Gundogan and Germany team-mate Emre Can 'liked' the upload.

But Gundogan – who has previously been pictured with Turkey's controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – insists he was not trying to make a political statement by interacting with Tosun's post.

"It is blatant what is written these days is for clicks. I thought I liked a photo of a friend I've lived with in Manchester, who's having a tough time at Everton, barely playing, then scoring a goal and leading his team to victory," Gundogan told reporters after scoring a brace in Germany's 3-0 win over Estonia.

"Next, I believe 200,000 other people have liked this image, footballers from all over the world. Then we are the two picked and made a story out of. It's a pity.

"There was absolutely no political intention behind it. Emre and I are both consistent against any kind of war and terror, no matter where it takes place in the world.

"That's why it was only intended as a pure support for our friend."  

Ilkay Gundogan scored a fortuitous brace and set up Timo Werner as Germany beat Estonia 3-0 in Tallinn on Sunday despite Emre Can's early dismissal, taking them a step closer to Euro 2020 qualification.

Northern Ireland's 3-1 defeat to Netherlands on Thursday meant Germany could put a three-point cushion between themselves and Michael O'Neill's men with a win and they just about did enough to prevail in spite of an awkward start.

Any chance of Germany repeating their 8-0 demolition of Estonia vanished with Can's early red card, as the Juventus midfielder – who was deployed in defence – paid the price for complacency at the back.

But fortune smiled on Die Mannschaft after half-time, as Gundogan found the net twice with deflected attempts and Werner completed the scoring to leave Joachim Low's men level on 15 points with Group C leaders Netherlands.

Can lasted just 14 minutes before his moment of madness, allowing a pass across the edge of the box to roll past him and stretching to reach it, fouling Frank Liivak and earning a straight red.

The visitors remained the dominant force, however, with Luca Waldschmidt drawing a good save from Sergei Lepmets in the 24th minute.

Lepmets could only watch and hope just before the break, as Marco Reus' 30-yard free-kick rattled against his crossbar.

But Germany did break the deadlock early in the second half, with Gundogan's low drive from just outside the box deflecting in off Reus.

The Manchester City midfielder struck again six minutes later, this time receiving Reus' cut-back inside the area and seeing his strike flick off a defender and beat the helpless Lepmets.

Substitute Werner's clincher was rather more impressive, as the forward raced on to Gundogan's pass and smashed home after cutting inside to dodge Lepmets.

What does it mean? Qualification in Germany's hands

With just two qualifiers remaining, Germany are suddenly looking in particularly good shape in terms of their qualification hopes.

Northern Ireland have done a fine job of keeping Germany and Netherlands on their toes, but now they will almost certainly have to beat Die Mannschaft in Frankfurt in their final qualifier to reach the finals.

Gundogan the driving force

While it was by no means a vintage display from Germany, Gundogan was the key man. He drove forward with intent, used the ball positively, got the first two goals - even if they were somewhat lucky - and set up Werner.

Emre Can not keep his cool

Deployed at centre-back again, it is fair to say it was a day to forget for Can. His early red card simply came about because of carelessness and did little to silence those adamant he should under no circumstances be playing in defence for Germany.

What's next?

Germany return to action next month with home matches against Belarus and Northern Ireland. Estonia go to Ukraine next time, before also facing Netherlands away from home.

Serge Gnabry will play no part in Germany's Euro 2020 qualifier against Estonia on Sunday due to a muscular problem.

Gnabry has been in fine form of late, scoring eight goals in his past 10 matches across all competitions for club and country, while he is also Germany's most prolific player in Euro 2020 qualifying with five strikes.

But he will not add to that on in Tallinn on Sunday, with Germany set to face rock-bottom Estonia in their Group C clash.

Gnabry will not be risked as a precaution, the German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed on Twitter as Germany aim to remain level on points with Netherlands at the top.

The winger will return to Bayern after Sunday's match and aim to be back in contention for their Bundesliga trip to Augsburg on Saturday.

Marco Reus comes into the team in Gnabry's place having been an unused substitute in Wednesday's 2-2 friendly draw against Argentina.

Manuel Neuer replaces Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal, with the Bayern Munich star still Joachim Low's preferred option.

The only other change sees Ilkay Gundogan come in for Robin Koch.

Serge Gnabry is regarded as an automatic starter by Germany coach Joachim Low and he might have attained that status earlier had a serious knee injury not prevented him from featuring at the 2014 World Cup.

Gnabry was considered a prodigious prospect at Arsenal after signing from Stuttgart as a youngster in 2011, breaking into the Gunners' first-team squad the following year at just 17.

He then featured 14 times across all competitions before suffering a bad injury against future employers Bayern Munich in the Champions League in March 2014, ruling him out of first-team action until the 2015-16 season.

An unsuccessful loan spell at West Brom followed in that campaign, but Gnabry got his career back on track after moving to Werder Bremen, earning a switch to Bayern where he has developed into one of Europe's most exciting wingers.

Gnabry's route to the top has been rather more convoluted than many would have expected during his early days at Arsenal and, according to Low, his 2014 injury robbed him of a place in Germany's World Cup-winning squad in Brazil just before his 19th birthday.

"In spring 2014, I made a couple of trips to London," Low told reporters ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier with Estonia.

"He played well in several matches and really impressed me. I wanted to include Serge in the squad for the 2014 World Cup, but he was unfortunately injured.

"He has been very strong in several matches for us recently. I like the way that he moves and how dangerous he is in front of goal.

"He is fortunate to have the chance to play at the very highest level. We need to encourage that and support him.

"Based on his performances over the past nine months, he needs to be on the pitch for us if he's fit and able to play."

Virgil van Dijk urged Netherlands not to get complacent despite Monday's 4-0 win at Estonia sealing back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifying victories.

The Oranje cruised in Tallinn, with Ryan Babel's brace added to by Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum in the final stages.

Victory moved Netherlands back to within three points of second-placed Northern Ireland in Group C, having also claimed a 4-2 triumph away to Germany on Friday.

Ronald Koeman's men face Northern Ireland in their next match in October, knowing defeat in Rotterdam will leave them looking destined to miss out on Euro 2020, while a win takes them level on points.

This international break could not have gone much better for Netherlands, but Van Dijk is wary of them getting overexcited with plenty still left to do.

"We have done very well with two wins, but we are not there yet," Van Dijk told NOS. "We also want to win the next two European Championship qualifying matches."

As for Monday's straightforward win, Van Dijk insisted the Dutch knew Estonia would fall apart under pressure.

"We knew that they would collapse a lot and that we had to be patient," he said. "We also had to remove their counter. That worked out pretty well, although we could have put a little more pressure in the first half.

"No team could sustain this resistance. We exchanged better from side to side, which gave us more chances and therefore enabled us to score more. No, I didn't find it a nasty evening."

Ryan Babel scored twice as Netherlands kept the pressure on the top two in Euro 2020 qualifying Group C with a comfortable 4-0 win at Estonia.

The Oranje reignited their campaign with a stunning 4-2 victory over Germany on Friday and they built on that with a second successive away win, though Estonia put up significantly less of a fight at Le Coq Arena.

Although Ronald Koeman's men clearly played within themselves in the first half, they did not need to be particularly outstanding to take the lead, with poor goalkeeping allowing Babel to convert.

The Galatasaray forward doubled his tally a minute after the break, before Memphis Depay's sumptuous effort and Georginio Wijnaldum's late header ensured the Dutch coasted to all three points, setting up a potentially gripping clash with second-placed Northern Ireland next month.

Netherlands wasted no time in establishing control and the opening goal arrived in the 17th minute, as Babel nipped between his markers and guided Daley Blind's low cross into the net despite hitting his effort straight at goalkeeper Sergei Lepmets.

They remained in charge, but Netherlands' only other first-half opportunities came from distance, with Virgil van Dijk shooting just wide and Depay twice testing Lepmets.

Estonia's goalkeeper was helpless early in the second half, however, as Depay's wonderful cross found the unmarked Babel, who coolly headed into the bottom-left corner.

Depay got a deserved goal of his own 14 minutes from time, picking out the bottom-left corner from just outside the area after Ragnar Klavan failed to close him down.

And Wijnaldum wrapped things up with a close-range header that Lepmets somehow failed to keep out.

 

What does it mean? Heating up at the top of Group C

As a combination of Monday's results, Netherlands' clash with Northern Ireland suddenly takes on all new importance.

It was always likely to be crucial to both, but after Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to Germany, a win for the Dutch in Rotterdam next month will take them level on 12 points with Michael O'Neill's men, or a defeat will leave Koeman's side six points adrift with three qualifiers left. It is make or break time.

Babel still Mr. Dependable

While many neutrals are likely a bit baffled about Babel still getting into Netherlands' starting XI, he certainly still has his uses in an age when Koeman is not blessed with striker options. He led the line effectively in Tallinn, holding the ball up well and getting two goals. You cannot ask for much more than that.

Klavan caught napping

No one expected Estonia to do a great deal against Netherlands, but nevertheless, captain Klavan could have done more for two of the goals, as he lost Babel's run for the first and then stepped off Depay when he swept home from 20 yards.

What's next?

Netherlands are in action again in October, when they host Group C leaders Northern Ireland, before then going to Belarus. Estonia's quest for a first win of the campaign resumes away to Belarus, with a home game against Germany following three days later.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.