Gundogan leads 10-man Germany to 3-0 defeat of Estonia
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 the 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 the Netherlands.
Can last 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.
In other matches, Russia eased to a 5-0 thrashing of ten-man Cyprus to become the third team to secure a place at Euro 2020, while Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice as the Netherlands beat Belarus.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s Russia, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals on home soil last year, only had to avoid defeat in Nicosia to join Belgium in qualifying from Group I.
Russia now leads third-placed Cyprus by 11 points with only two matches remaining and will attempt to overtake Belgium at the summit when they host the world’s number one side on November 16.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium, who qualified by thrashing San Marino 9-0 in midweek, won 2-0 in Kazakhstan earlier thanks to goals from Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier.
The European Championship finals, which start on June 12 next year, are being held at 12 different venues across the continent.
Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands is at par with Germany at the top of Group C with a nervy 2-1 win over Belarus in Minsk.
The Dutch also lead third-placed Northern Ireland by three points after beating Michael O’Neill’s side 3-1 on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Hungary moved second in Group E with a 1-0 win against Azerbaijan ahead of leaders Croatia’s attempt to qualify with victory over Wales in Cardiff.
In-form Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland scored on his full international debut as Scotland thrashed San Marino 6-0 in a Group I dead rubber which saw John McGinn hit a first-half hat-trick.
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