Tuesday October 26, 2021

Mueller lifts Germany 2-1 over Romania and close to WC

Published : 09 Oct 2021, 02:30

  By Klaus Bergmann, Jan Mies, dpa

Thomas Mueller. File Photo: Sebastien Muylaert/dpa.

Thomas Mueller came on to get the winner as Germany laboured to a 2-1 against Romania on Friday to take another step towards the 2022 World Cup.

Bayern Munich duo Serge Gnabry and Mueller reversed Romania's early lead from Ianis Hagi, the son of Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi - after the hosts had a penalty nullified upon video review.

Germany dominated but were not always glorious as they moved six points clear atop Group J with a fourth win in as many games under new coach Hansi Flick.

They can qualify for next year's finals in Qatar with another victory Monday in North Macedonia and Armenia not winning in Bucharest against Romania, who are fourth two points behind Armenia and North Macedonia.

"We were very dedicated. Trailing at half-time was not a good feeling. We felt we deserved more and were happy to be awarded after the break," Mueller told broadcasters RTL.

Flick said: "It wasn't so easy to overcome the goal. But the team went all in, never gave up and had confidence. The precision was not always satisfactory but the victory was very deserved."

Captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was absent with a groin problem, with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen taking his place; and Marco Reus was preferred over Mueller by Flick in the starting 11.

Germany thought they had a top opportunity for an early goal with stand-in captain Joshua Kimmich ready to take a penalty but a video review nullified the decision after Timo Werner had fallen under pressure from Andrei Burca.

It got worse for the hosts when Rangers attacking midfielder Hagi broke the deadlock shortly after in the eighth minute, moving in from the right, nutmegging Antonio Ruediger and beating Ter Stegen into the bottom far left corner.

Germany tried to fight back but Gnabry headed into the arms of goalkeeper Florin Nita who was also on his guard against a tight-angle shot from Reus after the half-hour mark before Gnabry aimed inches right shortly before half-time.

Romania threatened again on the counter at the start of the second half with Reading's George Puscas blocked by Niklas Suele.

But Gnabry came third time lucky in the 52nd when he fired into the bottom left corner from just outside the penalty area.

German pressure increased even more, without telling chances though against a firm Romanian defence.

Mueller and Chelsea's Kai Havertz came on in the 66th and - after two Romanian counter attacks - Mueller delivered in the 81st, netting a half-volley for a 40th goal in his 107th cap at the far left post off Goretzka heading on a corner-kick from Kimmich.

"We know that everything doesn't have to collapse if we fall behind. It was a great night for everyone," Mueller said.