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From Richard Petrie
BBC Sport NI at Windsor Park
Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying hopes suffered a setback since they lost 2-0 to Germany.
The magnificent half-volley of marcel Halstenberg early in the second half along with a stoppage-time goal by Serge Gnabry gave the men triumph of Joachim Low.
Germany go top of Group C, above Northern Ireland on goal difference.
Conor Washington squandered two gilt-edged chances for Stuart Dallas and the home side also went close.
NI keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell made some nice saves as Germany dominated the second half.
A display was made by northern Ireland but now face an uphill battle after enduring an eighth defeat in games from the 31, to qualify.
Michael O’Neill’s side expected to build on the momentum created by winning their first four matches of a effort for the first time – house and off doubles over Estonia and Belarus – however finally came out second best to the champions.
The Netherlands’ win over Estonia moves to within three points of those 2 teams along with the Dutch will probably be the next competitions in Rotterdam on 10 October of NI.
Further matches at home to Ronald Koeman’s side and away to the Germans finish the campaign in November with the top two teams to be eligible.
Northern Ireland were made to rue bad finishing and the absence of a successful scorer as their enterprising play and energy wasn’t rewarded with targets.
Roared on by a vociferous crowd, who were expecting to see their unwanted emulate the famous September victories over England from 2005 and Spain in 2006, the hosts made a bright start but when Hearts striker Washington found himself through on goal after a rare mistake by Toni Kroos, he was unable to conquer Manuel Neuer, who was quick off his line to bill the ball down.
Lone striker Washington and another opportunity when the ball got stuck under his foot passed a few yards out after Neuer could hands Stuart Dallas’s low cross into his path from the right.
A goalmouth scramble ensued but no Northern Ireland player could apply the final touch in a crowded playground.
He pulled his effort from replacement Gavin Whyte wide of the post although NI’s best opportunity of the half fell to Leeds United participant Dallas.
Ireland’s women will fulfill Canada in Dublin within their own Olympic confronting Canada off in their two games.
Former Ireland fly-half Tony Ward says head coach Joe Schmidt has assembled the”strongest Irish squad to attend a World Cup”.
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