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Hummels heads Germany to brink of qualification



Proud: Michael O’Neill hailed his players’ application last night

Proud: Michael O’Neill hailed his players’ application last night

Proud: Michael O’Neill hailed his players’ application last night

Holders Germany took a significant step towards qualifying for next summer's World Cup in Russia with a hard-fought 2-1 win in the Czech Republic.

Timo Werner latched on to Mesut Ozil's fine pass to give Group C leaders Germany a fourth-minute lead, but Vladimir Darida levelled for the hosts with a 25-yard effort 12 minutes from time.

Mats Hummels headed home an 88th-minute winner from Toni Kroos' free-kick to maintain Germany's 100% record and five-point advantage over Northern Ireland.

The Green and White Army cheered Germany's winner as it means the stunned Czechs now need to lift themselves and taste victory at Windsor Park on Monday night to keep their play-off dream alive.

Germany host Norway in Stuttgart on Monday but before that faced a testing trip to the 21,000 Eden Stadium in Prague.

The visitors began the match as strong favourites after remaining unbeaten in their last 29 World Cup qualifying matches with 24 wins and five draws in a match that was a repeat of the 1996 European Championship final at Wembley.

Germany won 2-1 that night and made a bright start by scoring after four minutes through 21-year-old Werner.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil had a hand in helping the RB Leipzig forward to put his side ahead, a far cry from his poor performance for the Gunners during their crushing 4-0 loss at Anfield on Sunday.

Herta Berlin's Darida equalised with a stunning effort with only 12 minutes to go, however the Germans showed their class and never-say-die spirit with Hummels late header to ensure three points to the visitors.

Elsewhere in Group C, Norway beat Azerbaijan 2-0. Josh King drew and converted a penalty on 32 minutes before a second-half Rashad Sadygov own goal sealed the result.

In Group E, Denmark were in a ruthless mood as they thumped Poland 4-0 at the Telia Parken.

Thomas Delaney opened the scoring in the 15th minute, before Andreas Cornelius doubled the lead just before the break.

Nicolai Jorgensen got Denmark's third goal in the 59th minute while Christian Eriksen rounded off the scoring on 79 minutes.

Belfast Telegraph