Berlin – Niklas Stark continues to wait to make his senior international debut for Germany. The Hertha centre-back was an unused substitute during the 4-0 win over Belarus, but was able to celebrate with the team as Germany secured their place at next summer’s European Championship after the Netherlands were held to a scoreless draw by Northern Ireland. Despite the favourites from Germany having the majority of possession and more shots on goal, the match remained scoreless until just before the break. Matthias Ginter scored a back-heel goal to put his side 1-0 up in Mönchengladbach. Jogi Löw’s side came out with a vengeance during the second half. Leon Goretzka added another in the 48th minute, before Toni Kroos made it 3-0 less than ten minutes later (55’). Kroos would bag his second of the night in the 83rd minute to seal the deal. Manuel Neuer also came up big with a penalty save against Igor Stasevich in the 75th minute.
Dedryck Boyata and Belgium had gotten the evening off to a good start against Russia. The ‘Red Devils’ left no doubt as to who would top Group I. Against an already-qualified Russian side, the Hazard brothers helped Belgium storm out to an early lead. Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring in the 19th minute, before his brother Eden (Real Madrid) added two more before the break (33’, 40’). Mid-way through the second half, Romelu Lukaku would make it 4-0 (72’). Russia’s Giorgi Jikia netted one for his side (79’), but it was too little too late, as Belgium took home their ninth win in their ninth match. In a curious twist, Boyata accidentally started the second half wearing teammate Michy Batshuayi’s jersey.
Slovakia give up lead
Despite taking the lead, Slovakia were unable to hang on to give themselves a clear chance of qualifying for EURO 2020. While Peter Pekarik played the full 90 minutes, Ondrej Duda had to watch from the bench as Robert Bozenik put the Slovakians up 1-0 at the break. But, it took just four minutes for Croatia’s Nikola Vlasic (56’) and Bruno Petkovic (60’) to turn the match on its head. After Robert Mak was sent off in the 66th minute after being shown a second yellow card, it was Ivan Perisic who would add a third goal for Croatia (74’). Pekarik and Duda will now have to wait and see how the others in their group fare to find out whether Slovakia will be able to finish in second place in the group.
Vladimir Darida and the Czech Republic are set to face Bulgaria on Sunday (17.11.19). The match will kick off at 18:00 CET in Sofia, but will be played behind closed doors following racist behaviour from the Bulgarian fans in their match against England in October. The Czechs have already secured their spot at next summer’s tournament, and go into the match against bottom-of-the-table Bulgaria as the clear favourites. Head coach Jaroslav Silhavy hinted at the possibility of making several changes to the squad ahead of the match. “I think the players will take a very professional approach to the match,” Silhavy said. “Every match you play for your country is extremely important.”