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Germany's World Cup champions were just two good

By Steven Beacom

Published 12/10/2016

Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland´s defender Gareth McAuley vies for the ball during the WC 2018 football qualification match between Germany and Northern Ireland in Hanover, Germany on October 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Mats Hummels (R) of Germany and Corry Evans of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's fans in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C fans. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland reacts to a missed chance during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Corry Evans of Northern Ireland looks on during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Fans during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Toni Kroos of Germany and Oliver Norwood of Northern Ireland in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Mario Goetze of Germany (C) controls the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C Fans during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/10/2016 Northern Ireland v Germany World Cup Qualifier Group C A dejected Jonny Evans as Germany’s Sami Khedira scores during this evenings game at the HDI Arena Hannover. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Germany's Julian Draxler scores his side's first goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Sami Khedira of Germany celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Matts Hummels of Germany during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Germany's Sami Khedira (third from left) scores his side's second goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Germany. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Germany. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Julian Draxler of Germany celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Joshua Kimmich (L) of Germany and Shane Ferguson of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland reacts to a missed chance during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Northern Ireland at HDI-Arena on October 11, 2016 in Hanover, Lower Saxony. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Germany's Jerome Boateng (right) and Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis battle for the ball in the air during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands in a scary clown fancy dress during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the HDI Arena, Hannover. PA
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Geoff Bannatyne and Steve Smith in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Steven Hull, Neill McIlrath and Darren McCrory in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Gary Johnston, Stewart Bell and Denis Campbell in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Steven Hull, Neill McIlrath and Darren McCrory in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 10/10/2016 Northern Ireland's Fans (From L-R) Geoff Bannatyne and Steve Smith in Hannover for Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Phillip Hughes and Steven Cairns arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Phillip Hughes and Steven Cairns arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Davy Hamill and Tom Parke arrive in Hannover, ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Germany on Tuesday evening. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016
Northern Ireland fans pictured in Hannover before the World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Germany. October 2016

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill remains confident his team can earn a play-off spot despite suffering their first defeat in the World Cup qualifying campaign - going down 2-0 to a dominant Germany in Hannover.

Julian Draxler and Sami Khedira scored in the first 17 minutes for the World Champions leaving O'Neill's men to dig in for the rest of the match to keep the score respectable.

Germany, with three wins out of three, are already well on their way to the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as group winners.

O'Neill believes Northern Ireland, who have four points, can join them by finishing second in the table and winning a play-off. Admitting Germany were simply too strong for his side last night, O'Neill is relishing next month's crucial match at Windsor Park against Azerbaijan, who have seven points.

O'Neill said: "I've said all along Germany will win the group because they are at a different level.

"If we can win the game in November (against Azerbaijan) we'll have seven points and we'll put ourselves in a position where we can really challenge for the second spot in the group."

Belfast Telegraph

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