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 it a step closer to Euro 2020 qualification.
Northern Ireland's 3-1 defeat to Netherlands on Thursday meant Germany could put a three-point cushion between itself and Michael O'Neill's men with a win and it just about did enough to prevail in spite of an awkward start.
Any chance of Germany repeating its 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 leader Netherlands.
Can lasted 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 visitor 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.
What does it mean? Qualification in Germany's hands
With just two qualifiers remaining, Germany is suddenly looking in particularly good shape in terms of its qualification hopes.
Northern Ireland has done a fine job of keeping Germany and Netherlands on their toes, but now it will almost certainly have to beat Die Mannschaft in Frankfurt in its final qualifier to reach the finals.
Gundogan the driving force
While it was by no means a vintage display from Germany, Gundogan was the key man. He drove forward with intent, used the ball positively, got the first two goals - even if they were somewhat lucky - and set up Werner.
Emre Can not keep his cool
Deployed at centre-back again, it is fair to say it was a day to forget for Can. His early red card simply came about because of carelessness and did little to silence those adamant he should under no circumstances be playing in defence for Germany.
Germany returns to action next month with home matches against Belarus and Northern Ireland. Estonia goes to Ukraine next time, before also facing Netherlands away from home.
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