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2022 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Serge Gnabry (16')

Germany beat Romania with Gnabry goal to top Group J

Germany maintained their perfect start in 2022 World Cup qualifying after an early Serge Gnabry goal gave them a 1-0 win over Romania in Group J on Sunday although they missed a string of chances against the home side.

The result left the Germans top of the group on six points from two games ahead of Armenia on goal difference before their next match at home to North Macedonia on Wednesday.

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Gnabry scored a 17th-minute winner as he swept the ball home from seven metres after Kai Havertz beat the offside trap on the right flank and squared an inch-perfect pass to the Bayern Munich forward.

Joshua Kimmich rattled the crossbar with a thunderbolt from 30 metres two minutes later and Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita then took centre stage as he made a flurry of saves to deny the 2014 World Cup winners a bigger win.

The subdued Romanians created very little at the other end but midfielder Nicolae Stanciu missed a gilt-edged chance to snatch a draw for the home side when he hit the side-netting from close range in the 90th minute.

Germany coach Joachim Low conceded his team plunged themselves into a tense finish after failing to add to their tally in the second half.

"We worked hard for the ball and had some good moves, but we have to criticise the way we used our chances," he said. "We could have made it a lot easier by scoring the second goal.

"Maybe we did not play enough balls behind their defence. We also could have had more runs behind, and that's something we can improve on."

Gnabry added: "We were through one on one versus the goalkeeper three, four times, but failed to convert.

"The most important thing for us is the three points. We had so many counter-attacks in the second half, but failed to make it 2-0 and made things difficult for ourselves."

Kimmich rattled the crossbar with a thunderbolt from 30 metres two minutes later and Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita then took centre stage as he made a flurry of saves to deny the 2014 World Cup winners a bigger win.

He palmed away a Leon Goretzka shot, tipped a Gnabry solo effort around the post and denied Ilkay Gundogan before Leroy Sane poked the ball wide from two metres as Romania struggled to cope with Germany's pace.

Nita thwarted substitute Timo Werner in the 80th minute with another fine stop before Romania finally came to life in the last 10 minutes of the lopsided contest.

George Puscas shot straight at Germany keeper Manuel Neuer after turning his marker twice with neat footwork before Stanciu hit the side-netting from close range as he burst into the penalty area.

Armenia, who also made it two wins out of two with a 2-0 defeat of Iceland earlier on Sunday, are at home to Romania on Wednesday. Lichtenstein suffered a 5-0 drubbing at North Macedonia and host Iceland in the group's other fixture.