Germany under-19s booked their spot at the 2017 FIFA under-20 World Cup after a penalty shoot-out win over the Netherlands.
Philipp Ochs looked to have won the game for the hosts, as they dominated throughout the entire 120 minutes. However, Abdelhak Nouri and Dennis Van Der Heijden looked to have won the game at the death after a spectacular turnaround.
Yet Germany fought back and Suat Serdar scored to force extra time; Marvin Mehlem opened the final 30 minutes with a fine finish. Sam Lammers managed to grab another equaliser in the second half of extra-time and sent the game to penalties. After Nouri and Michel Vlap had their penalties hit the bar, Benjamin Henrichs secured the vital win.
Changes for both sides
Guido Streichsbier was forced into two changes from the win over Austria, as Fabian Reese (injured) and Gino Fechner (suspended) were forced out for Maximilian Mittelstädt and Max Besuschkow.
As for the Dutch and Aron Winter, they opted for three alterations after the 5-1 defeat to France: Julian Lelieveld, Carel Eiting, Gino Dekker came in for Deyovaisio Zeefuik, Sam Lammers and Kenneth Paal.
Forgetable first-half, until Ochs makes the breakthrough
The opening 10 minutes were nothing like the goal-filled games both had been involved in up to this point, with a tempo that struggled to get any of the home fans off their feet. It wasn't until the quarter-hour mark that the match had a real chance. A clever free-kick teed up Besuschkow 25 yards out, but his drive screamed narrowly past the post.
That seemed to bring Germany, and more specifically, Mittelstädt to life. The youngster showed real determination to beat Lelieveld out wide and then go on to fire into the palms of Yanick Van Osch. Moments later, a well-worked corner routine saw the ball land at the feet of the Hertha BSC youngster, only to fire over from under the bar.
All the chances were falling the Germans way but a breakthrough was not forthcoming, this time Mittelstädt's shot at goal was cleared off the line by a defiant Pablo Rosario. Then, finally, it came. Mittelstädt was the creator as his long-ball wasn't picked up on and Ochs stole in to finish at the second time of asking; not pretty, but deserved.
Germany still dominant
Winter, after watching a dreadful first-half, was forced into change. Lammers and Jurich Carolina were both called from the bench, as Jari Schuurman and Dekker made way. Much like the 45 minutes previous, the Dutch were still unable to trouble Germany. While, at the other end, Phil Neumann had a header cleared off the line.
When Henrichs' strong, curling effort skimmed the outside of the post with van Osch at full stretch, the hosts had enjoyed their 10th attempt at goal; in contrast, after an hour in the play-off for a World Cup berth, the Netherlands had yet to register a shot. Moments later, Besuschkow fired over from a promising position. It was all Germany.
Everything was going smoothly for Streichsbier's side but a nasty knock forced Janni-Luca Serra, who had come on for the injured Cedric Teuchert, off for Serdar. That didn't disrupt their play, however, as Gökhan Gül had a header cleared off the line moments later.
Dutch strike back, but so does Serdar
Germany were heading for a routine win but the Dutch had other ideas. A free-kick given away on the edge of the area was hammered at goal by Nouri and a slight deflection from the outside of the wall meant that Florian Müller was unable to parry it away. With their first shot of the game, the Netherlands were level and how.
Gül was denied from close range again, this time by van Osch. The goalkeeper was soon sprinting to the other end of the field as a stunning header from van der Heijden saw him rise above Benedikt Gimber and left Müller helpless to prevent it from finding the top corner. Somehow, Germany were behind.
But, as so often happens in football, there was more drama at the very death. The Dutch committed the cardinal sin of not picking up their men from a corner, giving Serdar a clean run and jump to meet Amara Conde's delivery. From close range, he thumped home a header to send the game into extra-time.
Both sides trade blows in extra-time
That goal seemed to turn the tide in Germany's favour, and they took the lead just six minutes into extra-time. A clever ball from Mittelstädt found Mehlem running in behind the Dutch defence, he kept his cool to fire low past the oncoming van Osch and give Germany the lead for the second time in the game.
The Dutch had yet to trouble the German defence into extra-time but they would get on level terms and force penalties with 10 minutes to go. A hopeful ball forward from Calvin Verdonk somehow managed to split the home back-line and a delightful touch from Lammers poked the ball beyond Müller to send it to spot-kicks.
There would be one final chance for either side, however. Michel Vlap couldn't convert from the pull-back as Müller made a superb recovering save, while Henrichs clattered a stunning shot off the joint before a goal-mouth scramble ensued and van Osch eventually cleared.
Woodwork woes for the Netherlands
There were seven perfect penalties to begin the shoot-out, as Verdonk, Ochs, Lammers, Gül, van der Heijden, Mittelstädt and Rosario all converted. Conde was fourth for Germany and he failed to hit the target, slipping the ball past van Osch's dive and the post; suddenly, the Dutch had the advantage.
They had to score to win and captain Nouri hit his spot-kick well, but a little too well as it rebounded back off the bar. Gimber still had to score to send the shoot-out to sudden death, and he did so with ease. Vlap was next for the Netherlands and his penalty hit the exact same spot on the bar. Henrichs stepped up, scored and that was all she wrote.