O'Neill's men escape with pride but no points
Germany 2 Northern Ireland 0
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
There were no great surprises here in Hanover, although given the way Germany have been playing of late, Northern Ireland may have been happy to escape with a respectable defeat.
Northern Irish prospects of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup will not hang on the outcome of their meetings with the world champions and manager Michael O'Neill will have been encouraged his players' reaction to falling 2-0 down after just 17 minutes
For Germany, this was the 94th victory of Joachim Loew's 141-game reign as coach, which draws him level with the record set by Sepp Herberger, who masterminded the 1954 World Cup victory.
Northern Ireland could have let their heads drop after Julian Draxler and Sami Khedira had given the Germans such a commanding early lead but they stuck doggedly to their task.
O'Neill had urged his players to make the most of the handful of opportunities that might present themselves and they almost managed that. Jamie Ward, who tried manfully all night, carved one sight of goal for himself but could shoot only straight at Manuel Neuer. Josh Magennis, who held up the ball well for the most part and ran the channels as best he could, had Neuer momentarily scrambling at his near post to smother. When Corry Evans was tripped on the edge of the penalty area, Oliver Norwood wasted the free-kick, firing well over the crossbar.
Yet O'Neill will still have been disappointed with the two goals they conceded in those early exchanges. Allowed by Gareth McAuley to turn a little too easily, Draxler received Thomas Muller's quick pass and fired into the bottom corner of Michael McGovern's goal.
O'Neill will have been even less happy with the defending for the hosts' second goal. Toni Kroos played a short corner to Mesut Ozil, who whipped in a cross. Hummels was allowed to head back across goal and Khedira was all alone to nod in at the far post. (© Daily Telegraph, London)