DUISBURG ⸺ Germany made light work of their opening World Cup qualifier as goals from Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz and Ilkay Gundogan secured a 3-0 home win over Iceland in Group J on Thursday.
Goretzka and Havertz fired the Germans into a 2-0 lead inside the opening seven minutes before Gundogan sealed victory with a sizzling low shot from 25 metres in the 56th.
Germany coach Joachim Loew, who is stepping down after this year’s European Championship, was pleased with his team’s start.
“It wasn’t our most incredible performance, but it was very important to make a positive start to the new year and that’s what we’ve done tonight,” he said.
“We knew they’d sit deep and we knew we were going to have to force them to move in order to create space. I think we did that really well for at least 60 minutes.”
The match went ahead after two German players, Jonas Hofmann and Marcel Halstenberg, were quarantined earlier on Thursday as Hofmann tested positive for COVID-19 and Halstenberg was identified as a category one contact.
Germany took the lead after a delightful move as Joshua Kimmich found Serge Gnabry in the penalty area with a perfectly weighted pass and the latter touched it back for Goretzka to volley home in the third minute.
Havertz made it 2-0 after another defence-splitting pass from Kimmich released Leroy Sane who squared it back for the Chelsea forward to curl in a low shot from 12 metres.
The home side took their feet off the pedal after Gundogan’s strike but could have added the fourth as Gnabry hit the post with a rasping shot in the 70th minute.
The highlight of the closing stages was 18-year old midfielder Jamal Musiala, who played for England’s Under-21 side, winning his first international cap at senior level after coming on for Havertz in the 79th minute.
Gundogan was pleased with Germany’s performance after their disappointing Nations League campaign last year which ended in a group stage exit after a 6-0 drubbing by Spain.
“We produced a strong performance and kept things under control,” said the Manchester City playmaker. “We were just pleased to be playing together again and I think you saw we enjoyed it tonight.
“We don’t always have a lot of time to work on things. We have to rely upon our own performances to deliver.”
Germany visit Romania in their next match on Sunday while Iceland are away to Armenia.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond; Reuters