Germany edges closer to World Cup finals

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Germany needed a late winner from Thomas Mueller to beat Romania 2-1 while the Netherlands eked out a 1-0 win in Latvia to stay on course for the World Cup finals on Friday. Four-time world champions Germany now have a six-point lead in Group J after their win in Hamburg.

However, it was another rollercoaster evening for the European giants. Romania took a shock ninth minute lead when Rangers winger Ianis Hagi ghosted through the defence and fired past Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a late replacement for injured Manuel Neuer. Serge Gnabry equalised with his 20th goal in 30 internationals after 52 minutes.

Mueller then came off the bench for his 107th Germany appearance to claim his 40th international goal nine minutes from time. “It was annoying to concede the early goal, but the team fought, never gave up and played with confidence,” said Germany head coach Hansi Flick. “In the end, the win is more than deserved as we dominated for long stretches.”

The result extends Germany’s lead at the top of Group J ahead of Monday’s next qualifier away to North Macedonia.

A win in Skopje would put the Germans on the brink of punching their World Cup ticket.