Czech Republic 1-2 Germany: Holders on brink of sealing World Cup place

A late winner from Mats Hummels helped a lacklustre Germany to beat the Czech Republic and put them on the brink of qualifying for next year’s FIFA World Cup.

Timo Werner put the holders ahead early on, but their hosts were arguable the better side after that, although they only equalised with just over ten minutes left with a stunning goal from Vladimír Darida.

They were denied a point by Hummels though, and they will most likely need to win all their remaining games to salvage a play-off place. Germany will qualify though if they beat Norway and the Czechs get something against Northern Ireland on Monday.

Werner strikes early but Czechs cause plenty of problems

After their FIFA Confederations Cup success in the summer, Germany only needed to recall four of the players rested for the competition as they looked to close in on a return to Russia for the World Cup next year.

And one of those, Mesut Özil, didn’t take long to make a vital contribution. He used his vision to pick up the perfect pass to one of the stars of the summer tournament, Werner. After a sublime first touch, he shot through the legs of goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík to put Germany ahead in just the fourth minute.

It looks all too easy for the world champions at that stage, but the Czechs soon found their feet, encouraged by a shot from Jan Kopic that was blocked by Lars Stindl. Jan Bořil then forced Marc-André ter Stegen into a save after a mazy run through the middle, before the FC Barcelona keeper kept out Tomáš Souček header. Tomáš Kalas also shot wide, whilst Michal Krmenčík’s attempt to catch ter Stegen off his line sailed over the bar.

Despite the hosts having more of the chances – eight to their guests’ seven in the first 45 minutes – Germany still looked very threatening, although despite plenty of sublime passing they kept running into red-shirted defenders. Julian Brandt and Thomas Müller, captain for the evening, did though team up to set up a chance for Stindl, which was superbly stopped with his legs by Vaclík to deny a second goal.

The Czechs had the final say in the half. Darida wasted a good attacking chance but shooting wide from well outside the box, but from a free-kick they had an even better chance come to nothing in the final minute of the half. The Hertha BSC found the other German-based Czech player on the field, Theodor Gebre Selassie of Werder Bremen, on the right of the box, and although there was a chance to shoot, he tried to cross and got it all wrong as it went well over.

Hummels denies Czechs deserved point after Darida stunner

A stretched start to the second half saw more of the same. Germany had one chance with Stindl’s curling shot saved by Vaclík. It was still pretty laboured from them though, and the hosts remained dangerous themselves. A good move saw Souček’s shot deflect via Matthias Ginter into the hands of ter Stegen, before a Kopic cross was met with an awful shot from Bořil.

They seemed to be growing in confidence with every minute that Germany couldn’t summon up another goal. Substitute Ladislav Krejčí quickly proved a good creative outlet, having a shot of his own saved before a good cross into Gebre Selassie came to nothing as the defender barged into Jonas Hector.

After that their attacking momentum appeared to fizzle out, but Germany couldn’t take advantage, and were eventually made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness. A pass from the left from Jakub Jankto found Darida, who unleashed a rocket of a strike into the top right corner of the net, with ter Stegen having no chance of keeping it out. A special goal.

As the remaining minutes ticked by, the Czechs would have thought they were set for a deserved point. However, a free-kick given away by Marek Suchý proved crucial. Toni Kroos placed it perfectly into the box, with Hummels getting clear of his marker Darida for long enough to head it in to snatch all three points for Germany.

There was though one last chance for the Czech Republic to stun them again, as Hummels turned villain to give away a free-kick in stoppage time. Darida put it well over the bar though, and that was that.