Germany beat Georgia 2-1 to book Euro 2016 berth

FIFA world champions Germany carved out a hard earned 2-1 victory over resilient Georgia to secure their ticket for Euro 2016, following the last round of European qualifiers on Sunday. The victory sealed Germany’s top spot in Group D. With the result, Germany qualified for 12th straight time for the European Championship’s group stage.

Germany's Max Kruse scores the winner against Georgia during their Euro 2016 Group D qualifying match in Leipzig, Germany on Sunday.   -  Reuters

FIFA world champions Germany carved out a hard earned 2-1 victory over resilient Georgia to secure their ticket for Euro 2016, following the last round of European qualifiers on Sunday.

The victory sealed Germany’s top spot in Group D. With the result, Germany qualified for 12th straight time for the European Championship’s group stage.

Joachim Loew’s men dictated the pace from kick-off and pressurised the visitors but failed to turn their dominance into a tangible reward.

Marco Reus was especially wasteful, giving away a number of promising opportunities in the first half. The Dortmund midfielder had the golden chance to break the deadlock with only Georgia’s goalkeeper Nukri Revishvili to beat but pulled wide from very close range in the 13th minute.

Reus came close again when he tested Georgia’s goalie Revishvili with a long-range effort moments later. Germany’s wastefulness got nearly punished by Tornike Okriashivili, who forced Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make a save at the 27th minute. Nonetheless, Reus remained a continuous threat for Georgia’s defence. The hosts controlled the reins but failed to make the most of it within the first half.

However, Germany got the chance to open the scoring when Mesut Ozil was felled inside the box in the 50{+t}{+h} minute. Thomas Mueller stepped up and converted the spot kick.

The deficit seemed the be a wakening call for the visitors as Georgia turned up to flabbergast the hosts with the equaliser out of the blue, as Jaba Kankav made use of a clearance to volley home only three minutes later.

Georgia gained momentum and almost grabbed the lead seven minutes later but Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer defused Tornike Okriashvili’s close range effort.

Despite a resilient performance by the away team, Germany was able to snatch a 2-1 victory through substitute Max Kruse, who slotted home an assist by Ozil, three minutes after his fielding in the 79th minute.

“We squandered chances in the first half and struggled in the second. I’m discontent with the last two performances but I’m happy that we qualified for Euro 2016,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.

Germany finish atop the standings of Group D with 22 points followed by Poland (21 points), Ireland (18 points), Scotland (15 points), Georgia (9 points) and Gibraltar (0 points).

In another Group D encounter, Poland beat Republic of Ireland 2-1 courtesy a Robert Lewandowski winner in the 42{+n}{+d} minute. The result assured the Poles automatic qualification to next year’s finals, relegating Ireland to the play-offs. The Bayern Munich striker’s 15th goal in 447 minutes of football for club and country capped off Poland’s Group D campaign in second place, behind world champions Germany. In a Group I encounter Portugal, who were without skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, beat nine-man hosts Serbia 2-1, thanks to goals from Nani and Joao Moutinho.

Other results: Faroe Islands 0-3 Romania (Group F), Finland 1-1 Northern Ireland (Group F), Greece 4-3 Hungary (Group F), Armenia 0-3 Albania (Group I), Gibraltar 0-6 Scotland (Group D).