Germany confirmed their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after a 3-1 win over Northern Ireland.
The Germans took the lead through Sebastian Rudy after just 77 seconds, striking a ball from range that left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Goals from Sandro Wagner, Joshua Kimmich and Josh Magennis confirmed the result as Germany are set to try and retain their World Cup crown next year.
A Rudy way to start the game
Northern Ireland secured second place in Group C before kick-off, but a heavy defeat at home to the current World Cup champions could hamper their seeding, as only the second-placed sides with the best points total will advance to the play-offs.
Before the game, manager Michael O’Neill said: "People say, 'Go and attack', if we do that we would get beat," The Northern Ireland boss claimed.
"We would get beaten because they have better players. We have to be realistic.” He went on to say. "The biggest thing is to set a team up that's difficult to beat. Players believe they can win from that platform."
That is exactly how his side set up too. O’Neill switched to a side with Kyle Lafferty and Magennis up front in his 50th match in charge in an attempt to disrupt the German’s possession-based style of play.
However it took just 77 seconds for his gameplan to come undone, as Rudy sensationally struck the ball from 30 yards giving Michael McGovern no chance of keeping a clean sheet tonight.
The goal is Rudy’s first of the campaign, and surely one he will never forget after Joshua Kimmich’s lay-off.
The Kimmich show
The Germans almost doubled their lead just a few minutes later, as Kimmich’s cross was bundled towards the goal by Wagner a mere inches away from goal, but McGovern was just able to palm the ball away.
Wagner then hit the post following another Kimmich cross, met by the Hoffenheim striker as the woodwork rescued Northern Ireland.
Kimmich, who has more assists than any other player in this European qualifying campaign, was a constant outlet down the right-flank.
Wagner did then get his goal as the German’s dominance began to show. He turned Gareth McAuley with his first touch and was able to wrap his left foot around the ball, which curled into the far corner.
His fourth goal in this qualifying campaign, and the goal will help further stake his claim to be Germany’s staring striker in Russia next year.
Germany have never lost an away World Cup qualifying game, and that record never looked in doubt at Windsor Park tonight.
Northern Ireland’s first chance came after 40 minutes, as Magennis got down the right-hand channel before crossing to Corry Evans as his second bite of the cherry was saved well by Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Northern Ireland’s resistance
At half time, O’Neill brought Stuart Dallas on for Lee Hodson as the hosts switched to a back four in an attempt to get back on level terms.
However Germany then came close to a third, as Thomas Muller met Wagner’s cross with a header that just clipped the post on its way out for a corner.
Northern Ireland began to press higher with Dallas on the pitch, which initially worked but each time Germany broke their press there was a lot of space further up the field that wasn’t there in the opening 45 minutes.
The press was working through 15 minutes in the second half, which will make fans wonder why they didn’t start the game in this system with such a high intensity.
Northern Ireland were much improved in the second half, and saw a lot more of the ball in advanced areas but just didn’t have that final ball to trouble the German defence.
Toni Kroos skied an effort from just outside the box as Liverpool’s Emre Can was introduced to the game in an effort to reverse Germany taking their foot off the pedal.
The chance to get Northern Ireland back into the game
Northern Ireland then had a very good chance to set up a spectacular finish at Windsor Park.
Magennis worked very hard off a diagonal ball, teed up Conor Washington who rolled his defender before smashing his shot off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
O’Neill will be proud of his side’s effort in the second half, but will just feel that they could have got on the scoreboard to really trouble the Germans.
Manchester City’s Leroy Sane then had a chance to seal the game for Germany, as he jinked past two defenders with ease but he blazed his shot way over the bar.
Late flurry of goals
However it was the star man Kimmich to see off Northern Ireland, finishing extremely well from a tight angle after Jonny Evans' clearance.
Kimmich has become a fixture at right-back for both Germany and Bayern Munich, and it's clear why with performances like the one he put on show tonight.
Northern Ireland were able to get a consolation goal through a set-piece, as Chris Brunt's corner was put back into the area by Gareth McAuley and Magennis flicked on a deserved goal.
Magennis had run himself into the ground, and was at the heart of everything good for the hosts, and will cherish this goal even though it was in defeat.
In their final group games, Northern Ireland travel to Norway while the Germans host Azerbaijan.