Gomez grabs Germany winner as Northern Ireland endure narrow Group C defeat
Lee Gormley | June 21, 2016
Germany 1-0 Northern Ireland
- Michael McGovern makes several early saves to keep Germany out
- Mario Gomez opens proceedings after 29 minutes of first-half
- Northern Ireland pegged back throughout Group C clash
- Germany prevail with 1-0 victory and top the standings
Germany prevail over Northern Ireland
Joachim Low’s Germany overcame Northern Ireland with a narrow 1-0 victory at the Parc des Princes thanks to a first-half strike from frontman Mario Gomez, as they secured top spot in Euro 2016 Group C ahead of rivals Poland.
Michael O’Neill’s men are still in a strong position to edge through to the last 16 as one of the best four third-placed nations despite their loss, following their earlier victory over Ukraine.
A wider margin of defeat would have shattered their hopes of going further but in-form shot stopper Michael McGovern enjoyed a superb showing to keep the German attacking ranks from adding any more damage.
The free agent goalkeeper was unable to prevent Gomez from firing in the opener after 29 minutes, though, as Thomas Muller danced into the penalty area and set-up his attacking partner perfectly, with the goal earning them an eventual 1-0 success.
Germans pile on early pressure
It was Northern Ireland that began brightest with widemen Jamie Ward forcing German stopper Manuel Neuer to come sprinting out to the right flank and shuffle the ball out of play, but Die Mannschaft soon got into their rhythm as Toni Kroos started to dictate from the centre as usual.
With just seven minutes gone there were chances at each end as Muller’s wait for a European Championship goal went on, after McGovern smothered his shot following a lovely Mesut Ozil through ball. Conor Washington was then sent on his way at the other end, but Mats Hummels was able to halt his run in the danger area.
The Germans were beginning to turn the screw in the early stages, with Ozil this time having an attempt cushioned out the Northern Ireland defence, then Mario Gotze seeing his low-driven shot saved by an inspired McGovern.
Both Germany full backs Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector were advancing well into the Northern Ireland half in the opening 20 minutes, sending in some dangerous deliveries towards Gomez in the middle, and it was forcing Dallas and Ward to limit their runs forward.
Bayern Munich marksman Muller was gifted another great chance to open proceedings on 23 minutes, as Gomez brilliantly chested the ball into his teammate’s path, but the forward managed to drag his effort wide left to hand the Green and White Army a reprieve.
Gomez grabs German opener
Kimmich found himself in possession deep on the right flank before the half-hour mark and sent in a superb cross aimed for a lurking Muller, but the Bayern forward was unlucky to smash his bullet header off the post.
Although it wasn’t to matter moments later as the hard-working attacker caused havoc in the penalty area to hold off Aaron Hughes and Craig Cathcart before laying off Gomez, with the Besiktas frontman helping himself to the opening goal after much German pressure.
Muller may have assisted his nation’s first strike but he was enduring further frustration in front of net himself, with the Bundesliga poacher seeing his side-footed shot thumping off the crossbar following another surging run and cross from Hector.
Goalscorer Gomez was played in for an opportunity to double his tally before the break from a threaded Ozil pass, but he made a mess of his shot and McGovern was able to comfortably collect, though the Northern Ireland number one would have been worried about the constant flow of easily created chances at his posts.
Lafferty enters proceedings
Germany continued their dominance into the second period and would have extended their lead through Gotze on 52 minutes, if not for a sublime save from McGovern, with the Northern Ireland goalie spreading himself wide to thwart the World Cup winning attacker.
The Bayern playmaker’s miss was his final attempt of the game as he was soon replaced by former Chelsea wideman Andre Schurrle, giving their opponents’ defence plenty more to think about. Washington, Steven Davis and Oliver Norwood were doing their best to put pressure on the Germans, but Kroos and co were strutting their stuff in midfield.
It was O’Neill’s turn to make a change before the hour mark as he thrust qualifying goalscoring hero Kyle Lafferty into proceedings in place of a frustrated Washington, just moments after Gomez failed to convert from a rebound off another McGovern stop.
Germany see out victory
Bastian Schweinsteiger had come on to dispatch the second goal past Ukraine in this country’s first outing and he was introduced this time around after 68 minutes, and the Manchester United midfielder was part of the build-up to another Gomez as the striker as very close to connecting with a Hector delivery.
Arsenal playmaker Ozil unleashed a hopeful long-range shot in the dying minutes, while McGovern was on hand to deny Gomez once again, as Northern Ireland endured a narrow 1-0 defeat to a superior German outfit.
Having dominated the clash from start to finish at the Parc des Princes, Germany will be annoyed to have only come away with a 1-0 victory despite a host of chances, but they head into the last 16 at 4/1 with Coral to go all the way on French soil.