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Tuesday , September 27 2022

Germany qualify for World Cup

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BERLIN, Oct 12, (AP): As Germany became the first country to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, their former under-21 team coach was crying tears of joy after his first win in charge of Turkey. Stefan Kuntz was unable to keep his emotions in check after Burak Yilmaz’s penalty in the ninth minute of injury time earned Turkey a dramatic 2-1 win in Latvia to keep their qualification hopes alive. Kai Havertz broke the deadlock in the 50th minute before Chelsea clubmate Timo Werner’s quickfire double helped Germany atone for their surprise 2-1 loss to North Macedonia in Duisburg in March – the only blip in an otherwise perfect qualifying campaign with seven wins from eight games in Europe Group J. Jamal Musiala got the fourth goal for Hansi Flick’s team in the 83rd, set up by fellow substitute Karim Adeyemi. Germany stretched their lead in the group to an unassailable eight points with two rounds of games remaining. Flick has overseen five wins since he took over from Joachim Löw after the summer’s European Championship.

Germany’s Lukas Klostermann (left), and North Macedonia’s Darko Churlinov fight for the ball during the World Cup 2022 group J qualifying soccer match between North Macedonia and Germany at National Arena Todor Proeski stadium in Skopje, North Macedonia. (AP)

Ionut Mitrita’s 26th-minute goal was enough for Romania to beat Armenia 1-0 in Bucharest. Iceland defeated Liechtenstein 4-0 in the other group game. Romania moved to second in the group on 13 points, one ahead of North Macedonia and Armenia on 12. Iceland has eight points and Liechtenstein one from a draw with Armenia in September. In Skopje, Stole Dimitrievski was called into action earlier on to deny Joshua Kimmich from a narrow angle. The Macedonian goalkeeper was to remain busy for the duration of the game with his own team relying on counterattacks. But Germany’s lack of precision meant the game remained scoreless at the break despite 14 goal attempts in the first half.

Timo Werner went closest before the break when he hit the left post. Havertz finally broke the deadlock in the 50th, when Serge Gnabry sent Thomas Müller through. Müller laid the ball off for the better-placed Havertz to shoot past Dimitrievski. Werner made it 2-0 in the 70th, then grabbed his second three minutes later. There was still time for Musiala to become Germany’s second youngest goal-scorer, aged 18 years, 227 days. Ionut Mitrita’s 26th-minute goal was enough for Romania to beat Armenia 1-0 in Bucharest. Iceland defeated Liechtenstein 4-0 in the other group game. Romania moved to second in the group on 13 points, one ahead of North Macedonia and Armenia on 12.

celand have eight points and Liechtenstein one from a draw with Armenia in September. In Rotterdam, Memphis Depay scored twice, had two assists and missed a penalty as the Netherlands overpowered Gibraltar 6-0 to remain on course for qualification, two points ahead of Norway and four points ahead of Turkey in Group G. Croatia and Russia are assured of at least a playoff place after their respective results in Group H. Belgium, which were involved in the Nations League at the weekend, would have qualified in Group E if Wales hadn’t beaten Estonia. But Kieffer Moore’s early goal for Wales was enough for a 1-0 win in Tallinn. Wales stayed level on points with the Czech Republic, which defeated Belarus 2-0 away. The Czechs have played a game more, however. Belgium are virtually assured of qualification being five points ahead. The Belgians next play Estonia on Nov. 13, when Wales host Belarus. Depay put his disappointing club season at Barcelona behind him with a productive night for the Netherlands against one of the world’s soccer minnows.

His first goal against Gibraltar was his 13th of the year for Oranje, breaking the Dutch record of 12 in a calendar year by Patrick Kluivert. The Netherlands moved to two points ahead of Norway, which defeated Montenegro 2-0 without injured star striker Erling Haaland. Yılmaz’s late winner in Riga kept Turkey in the chase. Turkey next host Gibraltar on Nov. 13, when Norway host Latvia and the Netherlands visit Montenegro. The Netherlands play Norway and Turkey visit Montenegro in the final round of games. Croatia midfielder Luka Modric scored from a free kick to salvage a 2-2 draw with Slovakia, and Russia capitalized with a 2-1 win over old rivals Slovenia to move top of the group. Dropping points means 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia are likely to need a win over Russia next month to qualify automatically for the World Cup. Slovakia needed a win to keep their qualifying hopes alive and can no longer qualify. Also, Malta scored in the 98th minute to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Cyprus.

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