Sebastian Rudy’s first goal as a member of the German national team could be the goal that officially puts Die Mannschaft into the World Cup. If so, he’s certainly done it with some style. Check out this shot into the right corner of the Northern Ireland net in the second minute of Germany’s UEFA qualifier.
The Germans have had a perfect World Cup qualifying campaign thus far, and Rudy’s goal allowed them to take control of the match before Northern Ireland had any chance to build confidence in their most difficult fixture of the campaign. Northern Ireland needed a win over Germany to have any hope at qualifying directly for the World Cup. However, even Northern Ireland coach Martin O’Neill acknowledged that the chances of such a result would be a massive challenge at best.
Germany picked up a second goal from Sandro Wagner in the 21st minute and put itself in position to continue one of the greatest streaks in international soccer history. Not only have the Germans never failed to qualify for a World Cup in which they were eligible to enter (having been banned from the World Cup in 1950 as a result of World War II), but Germany hasn’t lost a qualifying match on foreign soil in their history. The Germans have only lost twice in qualification, once in 1985 to Portugal and once in 2001 to England.
The current cycle has been more of the same for the world champions. Outside of a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague, nobody has even come within a goal of Germany. Through their eight previous matches, the Confederations Cup winners had conceded just twice while scoring 35 markers of their own. Only strong defense from Northern Ireland, who hasn’t conceded a goal to anybody other than Germany, kept Die Mannschaft from securing its spot in Russia before Thursday.