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Germany ease to victory

Northern Ireland Under-21s missed the chance to finish above Germany in their European Championship group after they were soundly beaten 3-0 by the defending champions in Ingolstadt.

Germany skipper Lewis Holtby scored the opening two goals either side of half-time before substitute Patrick Herrmann added a third.

It could have been even worse for the visitors who also saw the woodwork of their goal rattled on two further occasions in the second period.

Steve Beaglehole's side had started the game with the opportunity to move above the Germans and into third place in Group Five after their 4-0 rout of San Marino on Friday. With Czech Republic and Iceland having already sewed up the top two places in the group both sides knew third was the best they could hope for and a tight battle ensued early on.

Northern Ireland had held their own before they fell behind to a fine solo goal from Holtby, whose father is English, three minutes from the interval. The striker found space for himself on the edge of the area before unleashing a searing left-footed drive across goal and past a diving Conor Devlin.

Holtby then thundered another shot against the crossbar early in the second half before he got his second goal on the hour mark.

This time he showed composure to finish after he picked up the ball following a counter-attack just inside his own half. With no Irish defenders to block his path to goal the 19-year-old ran 40 yards before outfoxing an exposed Devlin and sliding home.

The Irishmen were now under siege and Lee Hodson had to clear after Devlin had been beaten by Richard Sukuta-Pasu, who may have scored had he hit his effort more cleanly.

Germany's third did arrive after 67 minutes thanks to some sloppy Irish defending. The visitors needlessly gave away the ball in their own half before another quick German move teed up substitute Herrmann whose side-footed shot slipped through the grasp of Devlin and into the net.

More German goals looked likely as Christoph Moritz's 30-yard drive bounced back off a post with Devlin rooted to the spot before the shot-stopper saved bravely after Sukuta-Pasu tricked his way into the area.

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